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

And Then?

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,
its finality.
        	             Lights out.   
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
at listening

even as the Buddhist Zen says gently
          until death there is nothing
                                                      enough.

Falling Out of the Sky

 
You didn’t understand:
I wanted freedom; well didn’t I have it?
You demanded to know: Why all this beating of wings?

Not in words, but the way 
you stared at the floor
and nestled the cat to show

that you were capable of affection
but withheld it from me.
To you this was a question of loyalty.

Meanwhile, I was trapped in the slow-clicking memory
of my childhood, like an old video tape:
the tick of a clock, the sound of late afternoon.

At this time of year, there is no sunset,
just the deep carve of light that slowly melts away.
I told you I was leaving, which was easier

than allowing you to love me.
At first, it felt as if the sky
had been ripped off the earth, but then

I finally sensed my own existence and I was ravenous
for the world, driven outward like a bursting sap.
For weeks, I opened all the windows before I went to bed.

How glorious: the fragments of moon,
blue air and honey sun.
All that light on my face in the morning.

When the summer edged out, I shut the windows
and left.  The drive was long and the sky
was filled with rain like thick strokes of ink

I hurried down the freeway,
as if someone would be there
waiting for me. And the next thing I knew:

Wisconsin.  I dashed from the car,
pretending to run for cover, but secretly
praying for more and more rain.