A Litany of Things I am not Telling You, Out of Order

poem

A Litany of Things I am not Telling You, Out of Order
I have a bad feeling about all of this.
I have a question with a devastating hypothetical inside of it.
I once had a long list of questions for you, but I answered them myself.
I am the one you are losing, remember?
I am not a very good person, but I keep saying
I am trying.
I want to be let in, I said looking at your diaphragm.
I used to imagine: [            ]
I am making an artform of my own heartache as an enviable talent.
I am starting to adore my own unlikely need.
I am making something millable out of this, I am. 
I could mill a life so full, there's no room for you anymore.
I am milling around in the quiet space you left, feeling fragile. 
I am starting to like it.
I used to be yours; now I am mine.
My dear, my darling, my dark cloud.
I have no rules or secrets anymore. 
I am sure you know by now:
you cannot possess a thunderstorm
or bring one back from the dead. 
I was your first full stop, wasn't I? Wasn't I?
I don't know anything for sure anymore. 
I don't want to haunt you anymore.
I never said I would keep searching until I found you.
I don't tell you what I'm thinking anymore. 
I keep ripping pages out of my notebook. 
I am not eating all my meals anymore.
I never said I would. 
Okay, I did.
I am making small but meaningful improvements.
I am starting not to love you anymore.
I still think of how beautiful you are, how
your face fits your face. Fits the palms of my hands.
I don't tell you everything I am thinking anymore. 
I am not a nostalgic person.
I try to focus on the things I dislike about you.
I love you less and less.
I am erasing you, slowly.
I used to miss you all the time.
I used to want to talk to you even when I was talking to you.
I finally realized it was the compass that was broken, it just
took a long time. 
I finally realized the map wasn't even right, and anyway
I can't read maps.
I touch my own sweet and nervous spine now.
I will still be the death of you.
I would do it all again, but I wish I wouldn't.
I don't feel like a ghost. I am not a ghost.
I know you'll be okay without me, but not the same. 
I am learning to forget as a self-defense mechanism.
I tore your pages out of my diary and stopped writing your name.
"Write down everything and of course you'll remember things
you wish you didn't," I read somewhere.
Even if you never read this, you'll still feel it.
I suspect you will grow to miss me terribly. 
When it's over (and it's almost over, I promise) just know
I meant everything I ever said to you, even if 
I wish I didn't.
I am taking nothing back, even if
I wish I could. 
I would do it all again, even if 
I wish I wouldn't.

A Litany of Things I am not Telling You, in Alphabetical Order

Even if you never read this, you'll still feel it.

I am erasing you, slowly.
I am learning to forget as a self-defense mechanism.
I am making an artform of my own heartache as an enviable talent.
I am making small but meaningful improvements.
I am making something millable out of this, I am.
I am milling around in the quiet space you left, feeling fragile and raw.
I am not a nostalgic person.
I am not a very good person.
I am not eating all my meals anymore.
I am starting not to love you anymore.
I am starting to adore my own unlikely need.
I am starting to like it.
I am sure you know by now:
I am taking nothing back, even if
I am the one you are losing, remember?

I can't read maps.

I could mill a life so full, there's no room for you anymore.

I don't feel like a ghost. I am not a ghost.
I don't know anything for sure anymore.
I don't tell you everything I am thinking anymore.
I don't tell you what I'm thinking anymore.
I don't want to haunt you anymore.

I finally realized it was the compass that was broken.
I finally realized the map wasn't even right, and anyway

I have a bad feeling about all of this.
I have a question with a devastating hypothetical inside of it.
I have no rules or secrets anymore.

I keep ripping pages out of my notebook.
I keep saying I am trying.

I know you'll be okay without me, but not the same.

I love you less and less.

I meant everything I ever said to you, even if
I never said I would keep searching until I found you.
I never said I would.

I once had a long list of questions for you, but I answered them myself.

I still think of how beautiful you are, how
I suspect you will grow to miss me terribly.

I tore your pages out of my diary and stopped writing your name.
I touch my own sweet and nervous spine now.
I try to focus on the things I dislike about you.

I used to be yours; now I am mine.
I used to imagine: [         ]
I used to miss you all the time.
I used to want to talk to you even when I was talking to you.

I want to be let in, I said looking at your diaphragm.

I was your first full stop, wasn't I? Wasn't I?

I will still be the death of you.

I wish I could.
I wish I didn't.
I wish I wouldn't.

I would do it all again, but I wish I wouldn't.
I would do it all again, even if
it just took a long time.

My dear, my darling, my dark cloud.

Okay, I did.

"Write down everything and of course you'll remember things"
When it's over (and it's almost over, I promise) just know
you cannot possess a thunderstorm or bring one back from the dead.

"You wish you didn't," I read somewhere.

Your face fits your face. Fits the palms of my hands.

Tell Me I’m Nothing

Only

the atrophied animal
sleeping at your ankles.

No need to chain me
to the bedpost. 

Every seduction needs only
the smallest of aches.
Every concession: my shoulder
tapping your shoulder.

My teeth
tapping your teeth.

Call me your error.
Call me your stray. 

Know that I am more than my heartache.
More than my strangeness,
more than my arms
tied up together.

You can't fix something broken
with something else that's broken.

Empty bucket. Spineless 
bird. 

Although you now know me
like a nightmare

and undress me
with your moonlit mouth,

I know it's not enough.
Sometimes
everything works out. 
But

no. It doesn't.

Please don't 
do that thing
anymore. Please

forgive me. For this
and for everything else
that's coming.

And believe I never meant 
to let you tunnel into me
like that. The way love
twists into a heart,
mercilessly. 
And keeps twisting.

I believed you when you said
you would not be gentle. 

I just thought there was nothing left
unbruised when we met. Only

my threadbare heart
crawling with larva,
brimming with ghosts. 

I thought I could take it. 

But then we got quiet. 
Eventually,
I opened my mouth.

Call me your downpour.
Call me your death.

That night, I know
I dragged you through
the gutter of this.
How could you refuse me

once you'd turned me over.
Once you made me 
your sorrow, your specter.
Your spiral staircase. Your 
cistern full of pond water.
When you said do this
and I wanted to. 

I would live here for another year 
just to feel like that again.

A sharp grip around my wrists.
Cool breath like bee wings up my spine. 

But now all I feel
is the vacuum of your egress. 
Believe me 

I have enough grief to flood the basement. 
And enough regret to burn the house down. 

Tell me, what could stay upright
in the aftershocks
of this.

Even my doorframe is now
a skewed and haunted thing.

So everything broken
keeps breaking. And we can't 
take the bones 
out
of our bodies. 
I can't unsay that I loved you. 

Now that you're gone,
the moon follows me home. 

Call me your aimless. 
Call me forgotten.
Call me your fuckup, your weakness,
your garbage.

Your favorite
aberration.
Tell me I'm nothing.

You refuse 
to dismantle this,
so I will. 

If it's harder to unlove a thing 
why didn't you just leave me
there that night

on the porch
to whimper and crawl
up the steps
alone.

Hack Me

over and over

you cipher and decipher me

again
again
and hack me

into 1s and 0s
you hack me

into pieces

in addition to my heart
take my lungs and all my teeth,
lumbar, larynx,
Jarvik 7

twist my screws out
one by one
by one
by one

it's been hard for me to care much
lately, 
nothing really hurts

except TypeError:
     print "I really am sorry."

config==source(avoldprogram)
loop
loop
loop

it doesn't even hurt

keep hacking

A Long Time Ago

We did the very things
we never imagined we would do. 
		                           And it's too late now,
I've had a long look at you.

Suddenly
it felt as if I'd never had any other life at all:
I woke up wearing a black crêpe dress, sangria lipstick,
        and a tooth-crunching headache, dark and sharp.
But I remained a masterpiece
                                                      of composure
didn't I?

Nothing ever ruffles you, you noticed and also how
I was not beautiful, but self-mastery
		                                 can have the same magnetic pull
as beauty, can be so powerful 
that molecules and people 
realign themselves in a room. 
 
The days that followed were a blur.
There were times I couldn't even hear
my own voice; it was hollow 
                                           and infinitely far away.
I didn't eat for two days.
          The doorbell rang and rang.

I was busy reliving the moment where you and I
ran up the library steps. 
Your navy shoes, the rain flecking our faces.
I fell in love exactly how you'd arranged it.
                With my connivance, sure.  But still.

                It was refreshing to find someone
			       interested in me
	apart from my achievements or misfortunes,
not always prying for more 
or trying to pick my life apart like a fish split in two and splayed open—
					                         those messy pin bones everywhere.
					
You sat me down and told me
				                    the truth.
Even if you don't like Poe, he invented the detective story.

That was a long time ago. 

There was the evening you stopped me in the doorway
to pick a thread off my sweater.
	Days later, I sat up suddenly in bed at the sound
			               of your voice
speaking clearly in my head.
Come here. 

When I knocked, the door had opened
quicker than I'd expected;
			I was staring out at the street
		thinking of something else.
You stopped me in the doorway
to pick a thread off my sweater.
And how spectacular to be reflected in your eyes.
I couldn't understand what you were saying,
I was too busy
              turning your words over in my mouth,
those delicious syllables.
I heard you say: come here
Then the amber-colored everything,
	       like the afterglow of a dream.
Your Cézannes and owls and playing cards,
the closeness of your face in the dark.

There was a certain disorientation
of being the wrong girl,
with the wrong man, in the wrong apartment. 
But what can you do 
when someone implores you: come here
                                             and reaches for your hip.
And their eyes can see inside of you.
And they know you've got the blues.

What song is this?  I asked
to have something to say.
			My loyalties were all over the place.
		My hands, everywhere.

And even then,
despite everything,
			                       it still came as a shock to me.

The next day, you used the words think and love 
                                  as I moved my breakfast around the plate.

Do you even know what love is?
What it looks like? What it tastes like?
How it shimmers for a second 
			                               before it turns to ash
and moves right through you like a ghost in the room.
How it tastes like two takeout boxes,
the clinking of glass,
another red mouth full of teeth.

Weeks can go by like that,
                and it gets harder and harder not to be hungry. 

You said I hate to keep harping on this,
                                   but you really must eat something.
Yes, I know.
My parents said Intelligence isn't everything, Julia.
Yes, I know.
Yes, I know.

I like fried eggs! I like jam and toast! 
I can eat four slices!  I can eat the whole loaf!

I was speaking in a very loud voice, everyone
		                        pretending not to hear.

Really, my wolfish ego eats everything in sight,
           devouring affection and paperbacks, demanding
           loyalty and silence and caffeine.

But the body is weak, 
can be turned to off like a lamp.
                                                             That's what I did.  
Meaning: the sculpture will emerge, 
              but only when we stand still
              and are patient.

 Look at me, I'm talking to you. I
could see inside you, too: 
                                                     all that art and math and regret 
                           adding up, mixed together, 
slowly frothing over. That's why
you could sense my loneliness. 
              Black tea, that's the ticket, you knew.
No sugar but a heavy splash of cream.  

You told me things would get better,
and they did. 

Anyway, 
that was a long time ago.

It's been 
a while now. 

This Sunday morning, I woke up late
and climbed from a heavy,
complicated dream.  Nothing left
but a ringing in my ears.
                  Someone who looked like you
put ground glass in my food
because I had no discipline.
	I am telling you this dream for a reason.

Because heartbreak
is my great secret, too. Don't you know—
almost everybody's got one.

Don't you know
that I never stopped loving you
so much it ached inside of me and almost felt like
         a sadness                  
                        but a certain heaviness can take over, eventually
it prompts 
a gentle goodbye at the gate, a parting glimpse,
our fingers tangled then no longer touching.

There is
          a death haiku for this,
accompanied by a gorgeous piano elegy.

It doesn't really have a name.

Anyway,
that was a long time ago.

All I am trying to say is
                                          Hello, old love.
I am still waiting for you.
You've always been a planet
	                                        without an atmosphere.

What I mean is that you're smart.
				People like you.
	They tie themselves
in knots for you.
I did.

A long time ago. Although it was unlike me,
          I itched to reach for your hand
and when we were alone, I took it. Remember?
How  sensational to be holding your hand,
to wake up next to you in the morning. 

You took me to the mountains. 
Taught me the difference between ebonized wood and true ebony. 
Swept the hair off my face, gently. 
			By September, everyone noticed my appetite had improved.

	You'd be surprised
what small, everyday things
			can lift us out of despair.

Dark

When you latch onto me, 
I can feel your heart 
writhing, and mine too, 
reaching. Tightens like any muscle.
But inside the body there is no light.

Standing in front of the mirror 
is a barren errand. Most mornings
I barely resemble myself;
it's like waking up with a stranger. 

I realize that you too 
have a profound misrepresentation of me
as someone delicate and sick 
and needing to be nourished:
looks underfed, looks like a trapdoor,

looks like someone
who owns nothing in the world. 
So what. I prefer 
to surround myself with little.
I let you overestimate
my fragility. I like 
to look like prey. 
 
Unlike you, always trying to need more than you need.
Never learning that accumulation
only makes you lonelier. 

I am going to break you 
of that habit, just wait.

I am going to rearrange
your insides
until they are exactly to my liking.
You're not even pretending
to resist.

Just wait until I smile at you 
with my teeth. Oh yes,
what a lyrical, lilting laugh I have.
I can see how nervous you get.
But you never just go home.

I know exactly what it is
that you want me to give you,
but I don't want to give it. 

This is not an attempt to be cryptic:
you aren't going to get what you want.

You don't even know what you want.
Really. You should just go home. 

Even if we are alike, 
my dark is darker 
than your dark. 
Swallows it whole.

I'll create more dearth inside of you
than I've ever sated.

Don't follow me. Don't look at me
head on. The desire for nourishment
can be nourishment itself. That's why.
When you look at me, I start changing
your insides. A look can do that.

My eyes take on a new wetness to them. 
Don't follow me. Don't go
where I am going. 

There is no bottom to my depth. 
And inside the body
there is no light.
You just keep falling.

I have an idea.

It's a bad idea. Of course.
I most love my bad ideas.
It involves you, of course.
And something
I can't take back.

What makes this idea
a bad one. Is it
the irreversibility.
Is it the momentum.
Does that scare me. 
How actuality
eradicates
possibility.

Even if
you like my idea,
it could still play out
explosively. Bang. Up
in flames or
slow burn. Either way.
This thought terrifies
and excites me.

I try so hard to be good.
Sometimes I can do it.
When I concentrate very hard.
Until I get restless, or sleepy.
Either way. I start to stir.
Gears start turning.
They can't go
in reverse. I found out.

It is impossible
to sleep easy here.
This polite little town.
Plain as potatoes.
All that snow
awakens something
carnal in me.
Seriously this place 
is paltry as hell. And really just 
a lake of blank faces. A roster 
of common names:

Jennifers. Sarahs. Carolines.

Makes me want
to do something else.
I start getting all kinds
of ideas.

You seem equally
brash. Are you
in the mood
to burn something down. 
I know how.
Want to see.

Laurens. Emilys. Katies.

Makes me want to open
all the windows. Every
door. Let's do something.
Different.
Take me somewhere.
When it's dark out.
Black vinyl. LED moon.
I Bet You Look Good
on the Dancefloor.

Can I make you laugh
tonight. Forget
about before.

Rachels. Jessicas. Amandas.

Once they're open,
they don't just close.
The doors, I mean.
You know how they say
floodgates.
Might result
in a bang b-b-bang-go.

I should not
have looked. But I'm looking.
Should we.
Should we.

Annas. Sophies. Marys.

Their dishwater hair. Knockoff coats.
Banal bird tattoos.
Even the snow is muddy.
I'm bored. I've been thinking
about you. It gives me
ideas. It gives me
nightmares. Either way. Should we.
Should we. What do you think
about. When you are
tired. When you are
in your house. Should we.
Should we.
Will we.
Do you want to.
Tell me.
Will we.