Hack Me

over and over

you cipher and decipher me

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
nothing really hurts

except TypeError:
     print "I really am sorry."


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.

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. 

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.

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.

Don’t Come In

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.

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

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.
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
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.

If You Come Over

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.
	        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
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.

Tell Me No

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.
Beautiful, even.

When I Remember

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.
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.