Everything you do
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?
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
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 chance.
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
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 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
unstoppable and shaky.
I had to do something.
You remember too much, you accused me
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.
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
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.
We were standing in the church parking lot
Figs were falling from the sky,
splatting on the asphalt, and you were heaving
with laughter, I had never seen you
so swollen with joy,
your head thrown back, baring your throat
to the weak winter sun as the sound
burst from you like a geyser
We both were wearing mittens
You were gazing at me in a way
that I wanted to bottle up and keep
forever in a mason jar
and for a second I thought, this is it
So I took out all my ribs and tried
to hand them over
but you wouldn't take them, you couldn't
make up your mind about me
and it was too late by then
to put them back
I laid them on the ground--
a streak of white bone
floating in an ocean of figs
I looked up and you were gone
I looked down and I was knee deep
in a clear blue pond
There were oranges and water lilies
and human ribs drifting on the water
I woke up from the dream
and you were still
making up your mind
A Buddhist monk once said
that life is like stepping
into a boat
that is already sinking.
Death: it’s the apples rotting in the yard.
My mother says she is not afraid of death, but of dying.
Not me. I am terrified of death,
Or else, eternity.
But first, the dusty volume propped open on the welcome desk,
thick as a phonebook
The careful catalogue of my choices
to be considered:
The lies I told without blinking
All the homeless I have walked past
The mornings I left without saying I love you.
Humble, courageous, and kind:
my mother will go to heaven.
Her heart is just enormous,
like Audrey Tautou in Amélie,
dipping her hands into sacks of grain
at the market.
I might go to hell:
I don't save birthday cards
or love letters.
I hoard unread novels
and believe I am what I wear.
I am bad
even as the Buddhist Zen says gently
until death there is nothing