signals

i set a fire in the sink and lay down for a nap.
sometimes a lighter and bits of plastic
are the best way to get a man’s
attention. it was the sink because i wanted him
scared for me for the dog for his precious
things but no real loss, i wanted it close to water.
sometimes he just needs the flame to see
what’s really going on. it was a nap because if i made
a critical mistake, picked an afternoon he decided to stay
late at work or his tire went flat on the way home
then maybe i’d be able to sleep through the whole thing,
through the neighbors hot-faced on their lawns
the dog whining at the door then settling
into an unbreathing smog sleep the trucks
like toys in front of this black cloud.
sometimes i can only tell him in smoke signals.

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one bedroom

there is a romance in dinner alone,
lick every spatula clean and
add too much cardamom because
only you like that much spice.

slick with sweat over the stove,
worrying about what it’ll do to the cashmere
when you realize you are wearing
expensive clothes for an absent audience.

the oven heat touches your bare chest like
a breath. who knew how good it feels
to touch tomatoes to the inside of your arms,
the stickiness of seeded flesh.

turn on some sweet woman
over the speakers who will seduce you
into loving yourself. pour a glass of wine
into a coffee mug. eat slowly and congratulate
yourself on a job well done. when the food
is gone, think of other ways you know

how to feel pleasure. the song changes and
you decide you are just not full enough
i’d like to put my fingers on you

touch yourself beneath the dinner table,
hands nipped with the smell of garlic and
smoothed with olive oil, be 
certain
you are getting crumbs everywhere

 

how anyone finds out about anything

my senior year of college, a friend of mine
whose coffee order i knew and liked
how her lips struggled around
her braces – her boyfriend died.
i found out via facebook – the same way
i learned who was getting married and
what to eat for breakfast. she posted
a picture of the two of them laying
atop a picnic blanket on their backs.
they looked like beetles – limbs
too tired to move. their frame of vision:
all sky.

i called  to tell her i couldn’t imagine
what she felt, to tell her i was sorry
for not being able to understand but mostly
just relieved. still, i wanted to know,
in the way that we all like to be a little
close to death sometimes, what
it was like to lose something you have
done so well at holding on to.

do you still take the time to peel
off the white flesh encasing
the grapefruit, does it still give you the sweet
after the bitter? how do your small shoulders
bear the weight of the entire bed?
have you changed the temperature
of the shower water, or has your body become
something you are afraid to get wet,
a collector’s item, worth more because
he can no longer love you?

the good stuff

when i wake to find the dog bowl
filled with the last of the hundred
dollar bourbon, i know it is a chance

for me to face how bad it has gotten.
i try to remember how the bourbon
found its way into the bowl.

remembering is an exercise. i see the night
like bodies through a shower curtain.
i am jealous of how the water shines flesh.

eventually i recall only the thought
that the dog was so good, such
a perfect little creature, all spit

and heart and dirt,
surely he must deserve the good stuff.

(ew)

when i find a dead bug
in my underwear i know
it has been too long

without a frenzy to make myself
presentable, to turn
this body into something

you’d want to pull off the hanger.
i try to offer myself solace: i have
been so focused on nurturing i let

myself become a habitat. i am fertile
soil. i remember: the bug was dead.
if this unwashed body cannot support

one bug, i wonder what it is good for.