October Again and Again

               I think your face is beautiful, the way it is
               close to my face, and I think you are the real
               October with your transparence and the stone
               of your words as they pass, as I do not hear them.
	               -- Bill Berkson, October


October again
and again it's full 
of you. Can you feel
this small sadness 
as it climbs inside 
and undresses you.
How an orchestra 
of hands can promise 
to be noteless.  
Outside everything 
is beautiful and dying. 
Can you feel this yawning
mouth that only wants
and wants. The intimacy
of small talk without 
the immutability of its 
damage. Is it possible
to fall back asleep
in your contours
without subverting your 
heart into a hallway.
I know I didn't get it right
the first time. 

Can you feel that. Inside me
something insatiable
comes to life.
It reaches up my throat
with its claws. Wants
to be petted and fed
cold milk. Wants to show up
on your doorstep. But aren't I
an expert on restraint. Again
and again. I practice small refusals.
I do not touch. I throw out 
the milk. I try to unremember
the sound of you laughing.
The way your face looked sad
but honest in some moonlight.
The way time continues to elapse
patiently. A heart that beats 
slowly and sadly 
still beats. Still ventures
to unremember. What 
could you have stored up
to tell me anyway.
After all this time.
What would you 
say to me
if you 
were not 
afraid.


There is no suffering if you do not want anything.

               Please forget me. I won't forget you.


You were right about poets.
How right you were. Poets are liars
and obsessive.

Always trying to excoriate reality
into something aesthetic

and effortless
and love into something 
digestible at all.

You were right. They shouldn't do that. 
It isn't possible

and they shouldn't carry on
like it is. It is true 
that I went too far. 

Something simple about boundaries
and delicacy or discretion

had begun to elude me. 
You may continue to blame me and
I can live with that but—

according to a very famous play
(which I'm sure you've heard of)

Blanche explains that the opposite of desire 
is death (death!)
Asked Mitch: So do you wonder?

I don't wonder, or really 
we didn't have to wonder, did we?

It was the easiest thing in the world to do
but very distressing and painful
to have done.

I mean, physically painful.
Like a stomachache.

Like sleeplessness. 
Sometimes desire
is it's own death

and has no opposite.
No one ever battered me

quite like you. 
Early on you told me
about a set of mathematical proofs

which show that two curves
with infinite length

can have a finite area
between them. 
Koch's snowflake. 

Gabriel's wedding cake.
But the converse is never true.
I don't know why 

you told me these things,
but I did want to understand them.
Poets are always trying 

to manufacture metaphors
even from mathematics.
I did try

to understand you.
I shouldn't have told you 
that I wanted to know you

and I shouldn't have wanted
to know you. This is another character flaw

among writers. The general inability 
to let things go
unsaid or unknown. 

I still don't know 
what happened between us

or what any of it meant, although
I am starting to feel 
okay about that. As every day

it became harder and harder
to measure 

any finite space between us.
To even understand what counts
as a thing.

One can claim 
they don't acknowledge 
unspoken subtleties, but

isn't unspoken subtlety 
the only way anyone can distinguish
something viable and breathing

from all the pointless sediment
floating along with the rest of the river?

I'm not making that up. I think
people discovered this 
all the way back 

in the sixteenth century.
With letters and glances

and common sense.
I'm sorry for falling in love with you. 
(Really, I am.) Even the idea of you

is revolting and obscene
like eating food off the floor.
I'm not suggesting

this could have ended
any better. In general,
I'm okay. In general, 

I think solitude 
is a good thing. It's just that
your message was perplexing

and took a long time to sink in. 
Because you spoke in opposites.

So yes. Your moody distractedness
began to unattract me. The way
certain words can create a story

but aren't the story itself.
Eventually everything you said

ceased making any sense at all.
(At all). So I stopped trying
to understand anything.

I think the problem is that this 
went down really deep. 

Well, for me it did
at least.
Deeper than I wanted. 

(But then you snap out of it.
Then you realize that the well is deep
but empty. 

So you throw in a cigarette.
And the whole operation 

bursts into flame.)
Do you see what I'm saying?
I'm sorry that I fell in love with you.

That was where everything collapsed.
I started to sense 
that you didn't really want to know me

anymore or know anything at all.
You just wanted to wander around
and pontificate and sulk

as if things couldn't be knowable
(only you called it brooding).

Well. At least I know a few things
about you now. Who you really are.
It stung but I couldn't unknow.

I said I wouldn't write you anymore,
and I didn't. And that I didn't love you anymore.

And I didn't.
I had thought it was a pretext
until I looked you in the face

and said it out loud. 
Then I knew it was true. 

You know, sometimes
words can do that, actually.
I've realized. Poetry can do that

to a story 
between two people. 

Make it into something, I mean. 
And then into nothing. 

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.

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.

 

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