Oh, I Remember You

You've snuck around here before,
dangling inside the word forget like a tiny bell
on a leash.

Swaying inside our darkness
you noiseless bat.

Begging me to neglect you.

Oh, I remember
you said it will be okay, like you could know
and like I asked you and like it would be.

Well. The heart is like a mirror,
it can only be broken once.

I'm not mad.

If love was meant to be bloodless
then why would we have
knuckles to grind

and lips to chew on?
I never asked you to go easy on me.

Really.  Show me true anguish, yours,
and I will show you mine.  


So we glue the mirror back together
and it still reflects, but so distorted.

Anyone can love a demented thing
if it is done just right.
If it is just done right.

I can't help the way I am. 

If only you
had a sickly half-heart like mine, you would understand.
This is my weak attempt at telling the truth--
     I usually just watch you stumble around
     and feel your way through the dim corridor.

Are you starting to understand?

My heart is like a mirror,
it will show you who you really are.

I have always chosen a severe life
even when I said I wouldn't.
I was resolute. I was brave. But I still never figured it out:
              how to  behave, how to be tender,
         how to be selfless, how to start over.
I opened the book on my lap,
but only sat there crying. It is hard
to be your own terrorist.

Really who doesn't want to be remembered
as better than we are?
Every day I have allowed you
to overemphasize my gentleness.
This is when I have been most selfish.

Who can blame me? You said hello so nicely
that I didn't sense any interpersonal boundaries.

For once, I did not have to be gracious.
I did not have to starve myself for days
or defy my impulses.

No, for once I let the desperate animal
in my bones devour what it craved most.
Yes, I remember

Not Nothing

Vowing that this would be the last time
is what kept me coming back
all these years
Taking myself to the edge 
of what I can bear
is what I was born to do

I didn't want to say it,
but you have changed me already
I had only been posing 
for a photograph
when I met you,

a list of ingredients
without a recipe

the single grape 
inside your boneless mouth

It wasn't much, but it wasn't nothing
I have stood barefoot in your bedroom
I have been alone inside of you
like a key that slides in the lock
but can't quite make it turn

It must be the tenor of your voice

It felt powerful and rare,
incendiary even,
but in the end
love is not a psychodrama

In the end, the only thing I could calibrate
was the undressed space between us  
So when we touched,
that is what I touched:
                your most sullen deficits,
     the messy shelves inside of you,
     those piles of unread novels 
     stacked on the floor
A small song plays on loop all night in the dark

Those delicate moments of verisimilitude could not outweigh
your monuments of impassivity, 
though they made for such
delicious resistances 

Sometimes there is nothing left to say
or nobody left
to say it

When I myself have failed 
to say things plainly,
it was my nature
and not my failure
       Anyway, it would not
have made me any happier

Basal Ganglia

Everything you do
confounds me.
I am sick
of being punished,
but you can’t seem to help yourself.
This thing you’re doing
doesn’t work for me.
Press two mirrors together
and nothing happens.
Nothing ever happens.
There’s too much noise
and no signal. So why
do you keep reading this?
Ask yourself.
Why are you still sitting here?
At this table.
I only want something terribly sad.
Maybe you are too big or I am too small.
Lovingkindness is not always instinctive.
I have to tell you something
but I don’t know what. Oh well.
Oh well oh well oh well oh well.
Promises are only words
unless you scream them at me.
I’d rather see an fMRI
of your head the night
we met. Let’s see
if your neurons light up
like someone falling to their knees
and nothing to grab onto.

Aggression is instinctive.

Possession is instinctive.
Your eidolon daydream is here
to make you virulent.
The rumors, they’re all true.
I tried, but I couldn’t leave you
or your house
or your head
I can be selfish like that.
I so like to simplify a thing
and keep simplifying.
Until it nearly breaks.
I so like a nearly-broken thing
held in both my hands.
Then I don’t feel like a ghost.
Like how the night-screaming only stopped
after I told you my secret.
And one day
I will even tell you
how strangely
I have loved you (yes.)
but not today.
Love can be tyrannical.
I need to see your neurons
to believe in you. You know,
love is not god.
This paradox staggered me
when I ran into it.
See how love gazes
and holds its breath.
Blinks out its small code.
Startling. So sure,
there are many ways
to say I love you,
but reticence is not one.

Forfeiture is not one.
Neural constellations might be one.
Let’s see. Do not be afraid
of me. The last thing I want to do
is hurt you, but

you step towards the door

and I say, wait
and you say, for what?
and you don’t know it yet, but this
is your very last

give me a different life

i always think about this French chef 
who committed suicide
a long time ago

i'm sure you heard about it,
he was so troubled with everything

                     i don't want to be like him
                     i have nothing to lose
                     and that's something i never forget

i'm starving
let's go get some breakfast
and some coffee, okay?

we're in the weeds, okay?  in the weeds
we love to be in the weeds

              you know, a lot of artists were here

triggering something inside of you,
the memories inside of you

is very important

                     you have to look at yourself and be hard on yourself
                     every fig will bleed milk if it is not ripe
                     memory is very important

looked at my life and said
"i am not happy"

it was too beautiful,
in a way,

       not in a literal way

you had all the sensation of life
sweetness bitterness darkness
a simple recipe

who doesn't want to work
with someone like that?

give me a different life
we would hide here
my little bedroom

                     i thought that was amazing
                     i cried that day, for sure
                     i know i am doing the right thing

you need to be hard on yourself
reflect on what matters,
what doesn't matter

what i remember
the only thing he told me:

       I do love you.

for how long?

       Until the end of my life.



I held my breath as you carved a line down my thorax,
sliced clean through my chest plate.
I needed help & you saw it right away.
You in your white lab coat, absentmindedly
chatting about how you love the southwest,
the empty, the canyon.
You cracked me open & began removing all the junk
stored inside: my insomniac nightmares,
my darkdecade lullabies, some extra wishbones & molars.
You stood over me a long time, inspecting carefully;
my skin splayed open like a messy star exploding.
You apologized to me sadly, as if my body
was our bedroom & you'd left your wet towels on the floor.
Listen you said we are going to have to take everything out.
It's going to hurt, but that's temporary.
You looked sad. Things just don't look right and your insides
need air. We'll put it back after, but your insides
need air.  I was sad, too, about that pretty face.
What a shame to gut it all & the changes to be made
seemed slight but costly.
I said I understand so you bent into my redcloud
and began the process, wincing as you pulled
my pieces out one-by-one
& you talked about love.
But you didn't mean it.
I mean, that much blood can make you say stuff.
You sung softly to me about happiness
but with a blackvamp voice that meant sadthing.
Of course, singsong is still more comforting 
than silence for obvious reasons.
Then you put everything back inside me neatly, sighing loudly
& those sad eyes.  Much better now, you're going to be okay.
And you left me there, sleeping,
curled up on the table like a heart.

I’ve Got You

               I want you to know
               I want you to know
               You’ll never escape me
	               -- Alice Notley

I had never been in love before.
I was like a thin wheel
tumbling downhill,
                                   unstoppable and shaky.

I had to do something.

You remember too much, you accused me
much later,
                         when things began to unravel.

It’s almost sad when you think about it.

All my life, I was rewarded
only for my intellect
and my willingness to sit still.
This made me 
and it is now my weapon.
People like me 
who seem steadfast and selfless:
we’re the adders in the switchgrass

I am tired of being mysterious
There is so much
You wanted in, so I let you in.
When did my appetites
ever preclude your search for pleasure?
you begged me for this, demanded access
                                     to my kingdom of seriousness,
greedy for the novelty of it,
           like some infantile thing
only ever wanting to grasp me
and express yourself.

Never imaging that this would cost you anything.

So I let you in.
I let you use my body
	                  like a ladder
to pull yourself out from the mire.

Never imaging that this would cost you anything.

But didn’t I try to tell you? I tried to warn you
that I would get inside you 
and ruin you.
Say love again, I dared you 
as I held your head underwater.

After that, you kept me
in a tank with your stonefish
and my chapbooks.
                                                           How easy to become a possession
		                   and you handled me so precisely,
all eyes and teeth,
       just the way
I like it.

I had never been in love before,
and I had to do something.

Your eyes as bright as arctic water.
Those demon Nordic lakes.
I could drown in those eyes
			            I told you.
And here we are,
standing at the bottom of the well.

And I remember everything.

Your Egg

You and I are lonely birds. The last two laborers. 
                         Maybe we don’t always know who we are.
Even our shadows melted together;
            we made up every polished stone 
            in this mosaic.

At first I didn't know how to live
outside of the world we carved out:
                                           that astonishing garden of nowhere,
                                           those deep lakes inside  a mother,
      the train track down your spine, the wet canvas landscapes
                               we used to wander together.
How do I keep from returning
       to the ghostly oleanders in our arboretum?
They are bending back and forth, promising to open
to me.

                      What would it take
          to grow a garden in me?   

There are days I feel that empty canyon
    inside me, pulsing 
                      like a lighthouse
                          and I miss the years
             before my childhood.
When I was still a pinhead egg,
                                          buried in your side
                          and we never were apart.

Then after that. Every morning 
              was chamomile and maple syrup,
                          the color of your hair 
         in the winter sunlight. Your careful voice
like notes from an old record
                              that float across a dusty room.
You never did wash out of my clothes.

Those things that happened,
                 I had meant to move through them by now.
But such a cold river of grief ran over me
that I couldn't remember who I was.
          It was your voice
          that told me: this is who you are
and pointed at my grief.