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
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.
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 profoundly misrepresent me as someone delicate and sick and needing to be nourished: looks underfed, looks like a trapdoor, looks like someone who owns nothing at all. 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. Lean in. 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. See. When you look at me, I start changing your insides. A look can do that. My eyes take on a new wetness. Don't follow me. Don't go where I am going. There is no bottom to this depth. And inside the body there is no light. You just keep falling.
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.
It's still dark outside, too cold to have coffee on the porch or take a walk around the lake, but if you come over, I'll keep my hands to myself. Really. I just want to show you the new watercolors and my latest oils: a scented jacaranda dripping over the cedar fence in the yard, leaking onto the sidewalk. The white brick wall splattered with poinsettias, like the aftermath of a shotgun. The rippled lake washed in gold. I have tried to tell a story, to make a record of things. Many things have happened since you left here, most of them disconcerting. A man in my office put his hand on my thigh, so he could try to know me better. I left early that day for a doctor's appointment. My test results came in, though I already knew I have anemia and amenorrhea and a small heart murmur. I had a lot to think about on my way home; I hardly noticed the man on the sidewalk until he whistled at me long and low, so I would know he was hungry. Never mind. But hey, come over. Winter has already polished off October and I need another pair of hands on my rib cage. I can hardly tell anymore if I am sketching your face or just imagining you on the front of the cereal box. This morning we could do something together. We could act out a scene where we fry the eggs and bake the sourdough ourselves. Where we open a book and flip through the pages. Where your hand rests on my shaky kneecap. We could rewrite the scene where we let the toast turn black. And I let you see the cities glowing in the center of me. It's impossible, you know, to feel calm in a city. Without the sound of birdsong. That why every love song begins like that: with a sweet piano, so two cursory people can pause to kiss in a doorframe. Composed for just that moment. That's never what I wanted with you. I wanted to be the doorway, the trapdoor that you would fall through. The pair of hands to open you like a moonflower. To whisper inside of you like an echo begging you: ruin me, ruin me, ruin me.
I keep trying to push my words into you / even now I am writing you this poem as if it might fill you up with something I can really sink my teeth into. I am writing you this poem, even if you never asked for it. Even though I know you won't understand it. It feels so good anyway / and besides, I don't know what else to do. And besides, I like to see you / take the bait. I like to see you hoping. I hope one day you will understand the feeling of being lost inside yourself / though I know you will not. You are not one to turn your head away from something you want. And why should you? Although it can be equally delicious / Here, I'll show you. We stare at each other from across the street, waiting for the light to change, your breath unfurling in slow motion. I wonder how you hope this will unfold. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Tell me no / despite your spreading pupils and the skip of your pulse / but I know you. The truth is: we are as haunting as we are haunted. And it won't stop. I will wait until it is late and you are most tired. I will whisper something heady into your neck. I will linger on you / until something interesting happens. You are thinking: this is a bad plan. But everything is a bad plan when you are impatient. You cannot block someone's path towards what they want most. Well, you can try / but it doesn't do any good. You should know. Really, this is my last attempt. I looked over my shoulder to make sure you were watching. I wrote you this love poem. I stood between two mirrors, reflected infinitely / I fogged up the glass and traced your name in cursive. I painted a self-portrait / and for once I was so angelic. Lithe. Beautiful, even.
this is what I remember: his rare smile, those perfect canine teeth, almost blue in the dark above me. You have no idea he told me that night with his teeth. Everyone smiles, but not like that. He was so good looking, I used to watch him sleeping. What else can I say? I found myself singing along to all the bad pop songs on the radio. That was the winter it snowed and snowed. At night we drove around, mouthing the words, alone in our dream city. I came to know he was fearless about the weather, would drive in anything. I paid close attention to these things. I tried to remember every sentence he spoke, each cotton shirt in his closet, all of the food on his shelf. The night we danced through his kitchen around and around, dizzy in our happiness. His apartment was the only place I felt peaceful; it had good light and a pretty view of the chapel. Pendleton blankets and books. He didn't have a television. On the weekends he faithfully made me breakfast. Remember this, I pleaded: his thick wool socks, the eggs and the toast, the hardwood floors, the albums he gave me. On the cover of one, an abandoned farmhouse standing in a wheat field, ruined by rain. On another, withered flowers, rotting in a vase filled with dirty water. The last one: a thickly framed mirror, blank against dark floral wallpaper. I listened to each of them repeatedly; I laid awake trying to figure it out. Who is this person I am sleeping next to? I wondered. He was all I thought of really, and at night I practiced my remembering: the texture of his sheets, the amber color of his eyes almost yellow at the center near his pupils. The joke he made that morning about a dominatrix and the moon. And those teeth. This was when my love for him started to seem luckless. He asked so little of me, but what he did ask felt impossible. Try to be happy, and smile more. Don't be so reticent. Don't be so dogmatic. Sleep with the lights off. Eat all the foods on your plate. Remember what it's like to love him. Well I had requirements too, you know. Unflinching obedience. Loyalty, until death. Remember that it is possible to feel this way. But I didn't remember. I forgot, nearly everything. When all other memories of him had dissolved, clean off the bone, this is what remained: his teeth. The wolf smile. Years later, still promising to eat me whole.