moving in

when the first gray hairs sprout from his temple,
slightly thicker than spider silk but
thinner than cracked glass,
I lick my thumbs and smooth them,
trying to fill again with red earth color,
fissures in drying clay.

when he starts to sleep on the far side of the bed,
folded knees pressed against the doorframe
I start eating six meals a day.
if he gives me this much space,
he must want me
to find some way to fill it.

when he turns a fist on the set table,
rolls wrapped in creased napkin, puddled butter,
he yells because the salt is white,
not pink himalayan rock crystals.
we eat the pork with pepper and thyme instead.
later, i rub the skin of my cheek over the fine side
of the cheese grater. our little salt shaker
fills with pink.

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not quite panic

it is like sandpaper on wrists, like
finding a small dead thing
on your body and knowing
it has to stay.

it is like molars grinding insulation, like
the cardboard part of the toilet
paper roll found its way into the throat.

it is like digesting lightbulbs, like
threads wrapped around intestine –
pulled tight enough, thin string cuts
almost anything.

claws

when he offers me a cigarette i say
i dont smoke
and take one anyway.
pretty soon i have one tucked
between every finger on both hands –
a dangerous set of claws.

when i am down to the last one,
i pinch it gently between my lips
while unsteady hands work at his
shirt buttons. he leans down
pulls the lit cigarette from my lips
with his teeth and chews.

the tobacco is a dark stain
on his tongue. he says
i didn’t want you
to get smoke in your eyes.

heatwave

it is too hot to sleep or fuck.
we flip our bodies
and toss ourselves across the futon,
a fever fit – our brains and ankles swell
and soften like rice.
i take a drink of water and feel
guilty – dribble the liquid over him,
let it pool in the backs of his knees.
he says he is grateful, that i am good
at doing whatever it is we are doing.
when he takes a drink from the small
glass, i wait for the water to hit, to form
tributaries on my stretch marked thighs.
i hear him swallow.

old girl

i imagine waking for the first time in three days
the neck of my mandolin clutched in my fist, both
of us missing our bodies, metal strings wound around
my arms, leaving termite lines in the skin of my wrists.
i would want to find bits of her around the room
saying from her throat: you do not remember, but
i was here. my earrings awash in the sea of your sheets –
they fell out or maybe you yanked them, clenched so hard
they poked holes in your palm.

“poem journals”

I’m in a poetry workshop this semester (likely my final poetry workshop of my undergrad life *gasp*) that requires daily “poem journals.” These can be really short/barely poems/basically whatever – just something to get the brain whirring. So there might be a lot of those on here this semester. Here are two from the last couple days:

i grab two small handfuls of stomach, pull
in opposite directions. a set of ribs rises,
sharpens against the air. Palms full of hips, low
back, pinches of thigh – tug it all tight over bone,
bare the ridge lines, peaks. i cannot bring myself
to wish for less – it is easier instead to wish
for more hands.

***

i wear headphones that cover the entire ear,
look expensive enough to be soundproofed.

they are broken, have never blocked out anything.
i keep them plugged in and sometimes i nod my head
in rhythm with something i don’t hear.

i stand close to couples waiting at the crosswalk,
pick the seat at the coffee shop next to friends
whose bodies form a triangle over tabletop.

i suck sounds through the cheap padding,
imagining my ears covered with their open mouths.