a string drawn tautthere are so many blue stars in your skinbut i can't believe each neuron is a universealight with planets,gaunt aliens signing godin the absence of your name,dim cars on the street,beneath an awninglike a glowing orange wombyou shudder saying,god,i just had a chill, is this room coldor are we in the gut of a giant who's strung outseven days lifeless,biting the apple,a dragon,wishing for his mother,mijo, dioses magno,the earth is spinning in the eyesof a turtlewith a red shellwho swims in the flowers ophelia braided, who swallows supernovas and they pass through his kidneys,oh god,we could burst any minute,a fly's nerves twitch,tectonics shift, a city laid,babel screechesbetween microscope lenses, clutching wife to child,do you know my name?do you know you're shivering? do you know i'm the son of your nucleus?i live in your cheekand die at your
To His Coy Mistress[es]i. earl and lady greygentle kin,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.ii. darjeelingbengali goddess,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.iii. chamomilevirginal flower,you are the sun's daughter birthed by soil, a celestial soothing who blooms
I have your number, SeabirdHis bathroom is small and bleak. The mirrorshows your reflection in seven colors whichhaven't been named on the red-blue-yellowspectrum. Your eyes are shaking like eggsand he hasn't said your name in a year. Youthink of everything he calls you: Jay, Jaybird,Rose if he's playful. He told you particles ofevery man he's slept with are in the carpetwhen he pulled your head back to look intoyour pupils. Your eyes are black. They run,raw and rotten from fluorescence overhead.He told you the shrooms weren't the same.If you don't like LSD, you might feel bettertrying something more natural. It growslike marijuana: from the ground. But so doesevery poison you can think of. You're natural,bare with shades you can't begin to fathom.Something like sulfur is in your nostrils. Youtouch the furry rug and think of Vishnu. Hehas so many arms to carry you. Jesus only hastwo. The church was broad and heavy. It sleepsin Chicago, beside a park that smells like piss.He opens the door,
You left for work,and I walked into a kitchenlit by liquor store fluorescence,all the windows shut and curtainedby red fleece blankets. I made coffee,had that fantasy about your handsframing the white edges of morning,then took a shower and dressedfor an early shift at work:pacing from door for my jacket,looking for pennies in the carpet,drinking a second breakfast,crushing pill dust into mucus,pushing dots into equations,sleeping on the couch untilmy manager called and askedhow it's been.She's hiring her niecenext week,maybe for good.
Eschatological Relapseone. My addictions includeor have included: cocaine, cigarettes,happiness, sex, that feeling everyone getswhen someone you never loved confesseshis infatuation. Alcohol, humor, pornography,browsing the internet for poetry, politics,and photographs of crime scenes. Adrenaline,caffeine, dopamine, or anything that makes medesperately horny. Gum-picking, small shocks,attention, anonymity, but only if theyat least know my name.two. And it felt like God's armsin a gentle apocalypse.
terminali.we landed in oklahomaand drank cheap martinis in the terminal;you carried my guitar and fell in lovewith my voice but not my tongue,not my hands.ii.there's a man with a garagethat looks like a plane because nothingmeant more to him. will you make a modelof that bar? will you make a modelof my red cheeks? or will you live in a townhomewith her and three children?iii.the problem was you're not gay.the problem was there was feelingbut it wasn't for us. i had you butit wasn't for us.iv.i'm not sure if i resent you,but i remember that bar and every pockmarkon the stool you sat on while i playedthe song that parted your lips;you remember every pockmark in oklahomalike they were ours.
On Wanting Everything to Be RightYou got too comfortable,forgot he could make mistakes,and set your consciousness asideso he could mend the thoughtswhich have remained disorderedin your fumbling sobriety,despite the years of learning to copewith the pace of regularity:scraping the mailbox with his key,dining out every Sunday,setting the thermostat to sixty degrees,and changing despite every effortto remain apathetic about his plans,how your name became a constantin his living equations,the variable which defined the function.On the morning you leave,only your luggage and body will movethrough the summer shadowsof oak leaves shaking in a breeze,and only your barest senseswill know the satisfaction of hearinghis footsteps behind yours,cicadas composing another song,a car door slamming shut,the engine firing up,though your muscle memory isn't enoughto bring you peace or independence,money or place or dignity.When you turn onto Justamere Road,you'll picture the nightstandon your side of the
To Him, With Loveintimacy is airing outthose facts you have heldagainst yourself,allowing someone elseto draw his own conclusions aboutyour vain pursuits of existence.
IntimacyI asked to be slapped—and your palm met my cheekwith constraint, cupped to lessenthe ensuing redness, the responsive tearsthat welled but only in my left eye.There are things like tealightsand dinners after midnight that we agreeto be romantic: that we consumethrough antique filters, lacebetween our fingers, but your palmssweat when we hold handsand I've never liked skin webbing,nor the catch of calluses—So, I propose to rewritea definition: mostly for my sake,but also for the sakes of otherswho have found themselves wonderingif they might be a-somethingbecause they don't like to be touchedsoftly on the skinor loathe surprises of any sort,who would like to make lovethen smoke a cigarette,go for a jog without meaning insultto the man in their bed—Because when I asked you to slap me—I meant to say I trust you,completely.
virginity is like an envelopemy mother said her mother knew.i wonder if she stumbled home like i did,fifteen and beer-loosetied to the door like a thunderstorm with black lipsand i wrote a story about disaster,a quiet two sleds long.a box full of beads, i swallowedfifteen needles, mommy. don’ttell me i’m not sorry.don’t call me a whore you bag of bonesyou lock-loose suitcase do you evenrecognize me look at my face my toothache skini am not the one with the knife.my mother never slept with a boywho didn’t love her never let a boysleep on her while she lay awake beneaththe shroud of his skin breathing onlywhen her voice-box gathered too much dust.you have to know i didn’t doit on purpose. he slid beers down my throattill i felt like a landfill.i was not yet a crescendo. maybe i was a polka-dot.you couldn’t tell. i got homewith my legs full of nightmare.the doctor said xanax.i said i am a ruin like the oneswe saw in peru.a balloon in a funeral poem.
AsphodelA beckoning:watercolour sky shrinking,too late, teeth fall; pearlsfrom a broken string.Blink and the moon ignites—but the sheets are stillenvelope-stiff.
confessionalthey say sad girls change their hair colorand forgive their monsters.i change my moralsand become one.
19:38-21:23i have not prayed since i was a child,unless You count the times i disregarded formalityand addressed You coarsely or candidly.that's not to say i don't believe in Youor have disavowed your Grace,but i think everyone's noticed You don't pick up the phoneor maybe You just have a lousy secretary.that aside,i'll make this very brief becauseYou're busyand i have work in a few hours;when i thought i saw You on the horizonsomewhere beside the setting sun,taking the shape of a cloud more violet than the others,were You there or am i desperate? were You thereor was i reaching for nothing?You don't need to respond,but i'd appreciate it.
sleepon quiet islandswe are quieter--breathing with the ocean's heave,touchfor touch.
bad circulation"when you are dangling upside downfifteen thousand feet in the airand the clouds have their cold fingerspressed against your throbbing neckand your heart is about to fall out of yourthroat, remember to breathe."i am inhaling so deeply it burns my nose,i have choked on my tears in a bubblebath up to my cheekbones and i amopening each new day languidly, scratchingat the corners and dropping eyelidsand thoughts in the middle of class.i am biting the insides of my cheeksand falling asleep inside my hood onthe bus, because dragging my feet alongthe floor and grinding my teeth justisn't cutting it anymore,how can you feel so much andthen be told to feel so little?i refuse to say sorry.but i know that too often, i plant gardensin places where desolation is desired,i kiss people too late, or not at all,and i knowi know,that i am not enough
a streetcar to nowherei.he must crackwhen his hands are tulle:paling dry,rough and tearing,bought by the yardor cent-marked minute,spin a skirtthat won't last a winter,shed bohemiaand snort ballerinas,hope he's flexiblelike tulle:thin and shimmering,don't stay another minute,clear the aisles to sayhalloween's over,so he must crackwhen his hands are tulle:quiveringwind-burnt dancers,caught aflameby a craving sparklike tulle:crisp and burning,thin black ashii."name,like your real name orjust something i can call you,something that won't make mefeel like i'm talking downto you. not becausei respect you, i never—no i don't think irespect you, butsomething soft like i canpretend i'm decent,or normal maybe, don'tlook at me, i didn't pay to—where are you going after this?tell meand maybe i won't laugh."iii.swept.
ZemiThings having to be returned to their transparency: i. / green mist-earth / knit atmosphere / fathomless blue-lavender / lights spun out from light ii. are recalcitrance / and you are convergence & - 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 loveyou? Zemi? ) iii. 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? iv. We go on morning walks and Zemi laughs at everything I say.
Late Monet in a Boy's Bedroomyou have mourned for a childhood spentsiphoning color's touch from men with your eyesunshut, begging at the heels of lovers whowanted to know your shadows. you accepted theminto your bed, reminding yourself of such moments whenyou lay back: powerless, aroused. his hands knew youin wide spectrums they shouldn't have, but you lustedand lust for another whose brush is careless, whose teethwill paint your neck without praying to consequence,who will have you jealously, selfishly: who will let youcall him by that paternal name that rots your liver, thatmakes your tongue soft for affectations. he was a liar,but a charming, intelligent man: an artist, blending hishalf-blind writer.
Things I'll tell you when you're older.The monstersdon't fit under bedsanymoreand neitherdo we.
poetry for non-poetsI guess he was wrong when he said'you are poetry'because all you were made up ofwere line breaks and phrasesthat never, ever went together.The disharmony between your heart and lungswas something he liked listening to,just thinking there was a thunderstorm in your chestbut never considering that maybeyou were hungry or drunk or hurting.No. These were all so beautifuland worth writing about in the dark.But I guess the best decision he ever madewas to pull his head away from your shoulders,take a good long look at your shaking formand run farther than he ever thoughtthose bent knees could take him.
scraps and sacramentsyou,beautiful siren girl with melodiesentangled in her hair: you areshell-shocked and sea-struckeven though you cannot standthe sensation of sand beneathyour toes.you have fingers for prying, picking,pulling at your skin and nestingin that hollow space betweenyour bones. and if anyone asks,you will swear there are monsterssleeping in the concaves of your ribs;there are ghosts beneath your tongue,embittered, and you are not the wordsyou speak.they say there is an answer, little girl(sometimes you begin to believe you area scarecrow on the border of realitybegging people to turn the other way;and the mirror will agree)how far have you gone? a feather inthe breeze who won’t promise to returnagain; there is a wandering warmth inthe hesitation of your harbored fear.where will you be in six months whenthe future has become itself and youare still astray? little one, no one is like youin the way you sway to the cadence of adissonant night. no one knows your
astronomerswhen we're togetherdusk is containable; the moon in my palmsand the stars on your ceiling.we lull the city to sleepwith our theories of life; my tongue curlinginto speech.do you remember,when Jupiter was a silver wick, lighting its countless moons?that night,you balanced a cigarette off your lips,and I watched the vermillion flame burn lifeas a newborn sun;stars forming,planets moulding and constellations snakedabove our eyes.i imaginedwhat it would be like to be curledinside the embers creator and destroyerof worlds,so close to your lips.
zeroi sworei would never number the poemsi wrote about myself because thatwould be like ticking off the daysuntil my breakdown;i was a moth, unapologetically throwing myselfat any gleam of hope; wasting my wingson industrial promisescolors always felt much moreappropriate for the purple boilingbeneath my heart and the pallidpurposelessness of my head,but i was born into a colorless world--no one sees me behind the metallic scarsof my skin and iron grating of my voice againstthe grain; no one sees me as more thangray regret or monochrome mistakes,no one sees me butall i ever wanted was for afallen god with feathered heelsto believe in me: to pray uponthe monuments i built forbroken dreams and to baptize mein his tainted tears,i just want him to be real. morethan anything, i want to be real, i wantto be more than an imaginary friendto various mental limitations; i wantto trade my liquid skin [evaporating]for a chance to bei am a moth and you are the lighthousei
unfilteredii’d tell you I hated youif you had a voice or a face,or any sense of tangibility asidefrom the spider fingers you useto crawl through my brainyou are not beautiful, likeall the other poets protest. youare the red in my eye, likea pen bled; the ragged tomy fingernails, the hitch of my breathwhen it catches in my throat.iibefore i go, i’ll write a million letters (a millionpennies for my thoughts, bitter, embeddedunder my tongue) and send them to peoplei’ve never met, telling them how my eyes were bluewhen i was little but now are the same grayi’m choking on, how i am maddie and how that’s shortfor a name i was never graceful enough for, howi tell myself stories of lives i’ll never live so ican go to sleepbecause when i’m really gone, that’s all that’ll be leftof meiii(it’s funny what peopletry to justify with words)ivyou never loved me,you selfish thing, i wonder whyi wasted so many nights relivin
SurrealismThree a.m., andGod is in my bathtubagain—sipping whiskeyhallelujahs;backlit bya freshwater moonin the mother-of-pearl sky.
effortI have tried and triedto love you,to pluck my feelingsinto a riotous swell of emotionlike plucking a songfrom a superfluity of strings.but my heart is not a harp.I have tried and triedto draw out something sonorous,resonant, beautiful,from its chambers, but all I can manageis a desperate clanking,an occasional mechanical groan.I have no aria to showfor my efforts,no concerto or orchestral scoreor opera;all I have is a blinding headacheand a hopeless exhaustion.I was not built for this.
voicelessi.I lost my voice one day. I woke up to a hollow echo in the base my throat and knew I’d lost something special before I’d ever had a chance to say anything worthwhile. I checked under the bed and tried the lost and found, but couldn’t even ask if anyone had heard it lately.ii.I found my voice one day. I took long walks with silent friends, made travel plans and came home tired but fulfilled. I pulled a pen from the junk drawer, or sat down at a keyboard, or bought a journal on a whim and found it curled up around my fingers, sleeping, rusty, but alive.
untitledseducing the writeris pointless;he'll seduce himselfif you're silent.