I should spend every moment kissing you.
For all the times I couldn’t,
for all the nights I spent tossing and turning
wishing for nothing more
than the scent of you beside me,
and the freedom to kiss your temple
while you slept, unaware of the roiling
and growing and burning of my love
and my longing.
crack open the ribs
like the plastic cover
for your newest toy.
discard the things inside
you don’t need; instructions
and warranty, first.
enjoy until you grow tired
of its limits and downfalls and
quirks, then discard.
When the agony of breathing
usurps the treacherous pleasure
of your tongue grazing mine,
I’ll know I’ve been dreaming all along.
there are a hundred people
making love and war in my head;
all of them demanding attention,
all of them claiming a right to
this body I inhabit, claiming
they were the one meant
to move these limbs and pull
the levers and sift through
the jumble of thoughts
left behind from
a hundred different lives
lived before this one.
I once knew a girl with eyes that shone
like Venus on a clear night
and the sound of her voice
made crickets quiet down to listen.
But she was a flighty bird,
a burning-out star trapped
in our atmosphere, screaming
and dying to get out, to breathe in
space dust and toy with vortexes
and we were all too selfish
to recognize the gradual fading
of her lightness of being
and when I found her floating
face down in the lake, I knew
it was my fault and our fault
and that it was the price we paid
for trying to transplant constellations.
I think about how you may have been a trigger
I never quite tripped.
You took me to the place
where your family buried your horses,
a wide patch of land surrounded by
dying trees and yellowed grass,
and we talked about things greater than ourselves
and we walked a little more.
I don’t think I would have loved you,
despite the kindness you showed me
that only seems clear in hindsight;
you were damaged and bright
but you couldn’t crack me.
You gave me copies of Bukowski
and we spent most of our time
listening to music and sleeping,
curled up in your bed in my underwear
and I never once let you get close enough
to slip underneath them.
I never wondered if it bothered you
that you couldn’t stay with me,
that we had to drive three hours
to get to your place, and three hours
back to mine. My roommate’s husband
didn’t want men in the house, I told you,
which was true, but I don’t think
it would have saved us, anyway.
If I couldn’t get to know you
in those three hour drives or
playing pretend in your parents’ house,
I hardly think we had a chance at all.
I didn’t learn to like Bukowski
until a few years later, leafing through
the book you’d given me. He said,
Find what you love and let it kill you,
and you may not understand
but I did just that.
the paint is peeling
in the corners,
the night hangs heavy,
a mouthful of molasses caught
in the back of my throat.
your absence fills the room
like cotton and I feel smothered
Cracks in the sidewalk have always made me feel vulnerable;
if concrete can crumble, what might be done to my fleshy little heart?
Today I feel off-balance;
my axis has shifted and I’m rotating around you
in reverse and though I’m not frightened
I am paralyzed with ineptitude when all I want
is to correct my course and return to your gravity.
My hair is longer now – much longer than you’d have liked,
it curls around my rib cage like ivy,
and I think of this now and again
when it gets stuck in the door of the car
or beneath his elbow while we’re sleeping,
and I don’t mind it and neither does he.
You would have,
it might have gotten in the way at some
critical juncture when our bodies were meeting,
briefly, in a fervor of rushed expectations,
behind doors that were forbidden to be closed.
That’s all that ever really mattered to you.
I’m sure you’ve indulged
in all the things I hated about you -
the way you laughed at the stupidest jokes
and couldn’t keep to yourself when I was away;
I realized too late I was only being toyed with,
but I remember how hard you cried when I left.
Tonight the rain came down in aggressive torrents,
battering against the windows as lightning caught fire
somewhere a few miles north. Still, we crawled out
onto the steps of the fire escape and smoked a joint,
letting the rain soak our pant-legs while we leaned back,
staring up at the sky only half obstructed by the overhang,
and collected all the moments we’d ever been really happy
and watched them float away.
At what point does being alive
ever coexist with our deepest expectations?
I’ve trudged through thus far,
at times up to my throat in the quicksand
of reality and the frailty of our souls and
the weight and agony of a battered mind.
I’ve pressed on when my bones quivered
and my heart stuttered and everything inside of me
screamed to be relieved of the burdenous nature
of life, I’ve pressed on when my lungs
were set ablaze and the wildfire ate my ribcage,
when everything went black and all I knew was
a hollow sickness that has never left me,
and I want to know
when it is going to fu*king pay off.
I swallow back the non-articulable mess
of mis-representations of deeper seas; there are
oceans and oceans of things I’ve never said.
Trinkets of these wordless captives wash up on shore
after a storm ravages the fathomless beryl waters,
tiny little treasures you’ll never understand.
At night my heart cracks open
like your eggs in the morning
and everything I felt in the day
comes spilling out.
I never could break an egg quite right.
Outside I can hear late night traffic
and now and then headlights illuminate the wall
across from my window and I think quietly to myself
about the enigmas of other souls; of how
now matter how closely we know another, we do not really
know anything about the tiny thoughts in their minds
and the subtle shifts of mood – as distinct as the weather
but equally flighty – and the nature of the slow bemused smile
curling their lips in the dark at something we’ll never be privy to.
I wonder how often you think of me when you’re away,
whether I cross your mind like a staggering memory or
sweep through like a gale-force wind. Do I leave you
lonely, hungry, sorrowful, dazed, bemused, or troubled
when I appear at once, unannounced, uninvited,
and vanish into the labyrinthine corridors of your thoughts?
Do I appear at all?
I say we ditch this old-hat life
of scrimping and barely getting by
and living as if we’ll be twenty-something
until we die. Hop a barge and flee somewhere
with more culture to get lost in,
somewhere with an accent we can adopt
to amuse our friends back home.
When we’re too broke to buy a few pints
I’ll dive into the river and let the water take me,
let it soak me to the bone and swallow me up,
and I’ll hold my breath until I sink to the bottom.
When you drag me out you can take me
to the humane society for drowned persons
and they’ll give us a few coins for our ale
and we’ll stay up late with bad jokes
and a collection of memories to amuse us
when we stop being queerplunging twenty-somethings.
I cried, once, when a girl at the grocery
smiled at me, her eyes full of unbridled kindness,
the kind you could only get from strangers
who’d never had to offer you their sympathies
or pick you up, drunk, wailing on the sidewalk at 3AM
because the only person who’d ever meant anything to you
had just left you, exposed and raw and staggering,
in a bar in a town you hated and had always hated
but suffered through because of him.
The April air pricks at me,
dragging rough fingers along my skin,
digging up old wounds as it goes along.
Daylight feels stronger,
it reflects off everything and I’m blind,
I don’t remember March being so abrasive.
You hound me like the dogs
of February blizzards, howling with the wind
and chasing me indoors with the fire.
But I have a January house
everything that leaves is new
and everything that enters dies.
There are as many miles between us
as there are weeks, but still, sometimes
I think of you when the sun has vanished
and the moon hangs low and ominous
in the ink and velvet sky.
I wonder whether you’re two-six-packs
into your night, and if you’ve spent it alone,
and whether the blankets are enough to
keep you warm tonight. Do you feel the gnaw
of an old loneliness chomping at your heels?
I review all the hours I spent crying you out,
cutting into my soul to bleed out the venom
that was your memory, and I wonder if you ever
wondered if I struggled to survive
the hungry, treacherous night.
I think of you in increments, only half-way
remembering your name, to keep you from spreading
like ivy until you choke out everything else.
I can’t recall the days we loved each other
but I remember how it ends.
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