Torch

there is a torch
right now
between us

and the only thing
which will prevent us 
from lighting it
is whether or not 
you can allow 
its ashes
in your otherwise 
perfect 
atmosphere

it would be easier
to dismiss this view
as simply pretty 
and walk away
because it is getting cold
and we forgot to bring 
heavier jackets

to cut off this conversation
because its levity 
is speckled
with what-ifs 
and we-coulds

so why make me say it?      
when you can see it

in my eyes     and all these lashes!     spelling out:
yesiwantthis waitforme   
maybeoneday
youdontfoolme
dontleavemehere  hurryback
tellnodonttell

something tells me 
to be careful here
and        oh        how i do hate being careful

i have not been delicate
but i have been precise:
gritty and colossal.
and you know what
that took courage

i see you've found those crevices
in my character
the curve of my spine
that arch, that apse
such a spectacle        so sure
i like to make my messes there

it's okay        
we are both learning
how worlds start 
to explode 
and then they don't       

there are birds with bad wings
there is winter honeysuckle 
growing wild everywhere
there are places we can go

all of this means       i...      

all of my thoughts
are going down 
a chimney somewhere
and burning      
but it's okay, 
we are learning

and i only regret          
that it is taking me
a lifetime
to learn      how to live       

if i could
i would do things 
differently, i would
i would
i would have 
kissed you 
in that dim parking lot      everything 
melting away
in the dark

we looked at each other 
so long it felt
like bursting into flames      

your eyes said want 
and they parted my chestplate like an arrow

i could eat salads 
for a month      i swear
i am cold                 
but i am learning
that before nourishment     
there must be docility
as in,   
you can live 
by the ocean 
and still die of thirst

now:
hand over your kingdom.

it is still 
solely
your choice
so do you 
want this?   torch

if only this metaphor 
were more complex
if only
i could allusion away 
my own existence     i swear
i have done it 
before,           have you?

for a lifetime
i have been defined 
by my distance
and my exclusions
by the love that i dismiss 
when i try to fly away

bird with bad wings

it's okay,
fly away if you need to 
but know
that i 
am waiting for you
i am lying
low in the grass
and staying perfectly still
i am burning up 
with patience

so i know 
all the math
in your head 
says you shouldn't

but my torch
is yours 
if you want it
and if you don't

i have nothing left 
to hold onto
and this sweet
compulsory fire 
is starting 
to burn 
right through me

 

 

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.
	                  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.

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.  

Winks.

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
you.

remember you

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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

hey
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

memory
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

see
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.

 

Sadthing

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.

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.

 

Image

I Had a Dream About You

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
about me

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