the wrong hour

i dream about kissing
the throats out of men
i’ve loved. in the dark
they taste like mango
but chew like oats. all
breakfast. i wish for coffee
to wash down the sticky.
i wish they dreamed me
into pieces. maybe they do.

i explain to my now love
how i always seem to find
myself made of hair on tile,
a smear across sheets,
a towel wet at the wrong hour.
it is easier to hurt than be
hurt i say but know
they are the same thing.

walk me around the city
on the same pieces of sidewalk.
when it’s too hot to touch,
use only the flat part of the tongue.
turn me to a salt lick. fuck me
behind glass.

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grease on our tongues

there is a reason animals hide themselves to die.
to watch something go out like this, to still look
alive just so still, it is not something we deserve.
i wonder if you keep a dying animal on a leash
how long it will avoid the dying. i try to stay
close, close to this love that is like the last of lotion
on skin. we are still slick with it but can no longer
see it. it is grease on our tongues. i trade long runs
for sprints down the block, slow walk back.
i am scared to get too far away. scared the whole
frame might uproot itself in search of a place to go
out alone. the best places to die are only slightly
bigger than your body. the absences make us louder
but we all have to take breaths sometimes. we both
are children again, passing our fingers through a flame,
so quickly at first then slower, still slower in search
of the burning point.

sugar high

i spend the whole afternoon making cakes
you won’t eat. they all turn trash differently.
the lemon turns dark where it touches air,
the blue-gray of storm clouds. the pumpkin:
frosting turns sour first. the carrot — each bit
of shaved vegetable starts to grow mold,
the rest of the cake remains. i try to read the rot
like tarot. i am not sure what this means for us.
i imagine i am getting better which does
nothing. i imagine you are getting better at handling me
which does worse than nothing. when the mold
overwhelms them, i leave heaps in the front yard.
the city animals ride the sugar high for days,
careening across the telephone wires and falling asleep
wild-eyed under tires. the street in front of our house
is part asphalt part fur. you say the city should clean up
this public death. you feel the dried, flat skins
on your body like punishment. you should have
just eaten the cake. i had to make them,
crowding us out of our small kitchen like artifacts
from a happy life. i am fooling no one. when i stand
on our porch the road screams with a dozen toothy mouths.

distance

i wish your love did not feel as far
away as you are. i am no good
at distance. i am the same size
as my body when it is with yours but
feel smaller. it is amazing how
4,000 miles away everything
becomes you. two boys throw a frisbee
in a field. i order peanut butter ice cream
& mouth warm it. all of the parks
have ping pong tables. a man on the train
has stolen your skin, hair but forgotten
to take the rest. still, i try to touch him
just a little. it is not enough
but it must be. the days are easy. i am full
with the newness. at night i eat dinner
alone with a beer like melted caramel, walk
home like i am trying to find anything
except my bed. a man stands outside
an apartment building with an armful
of flowers in a way you never have, but still
i put his jacket over your shoulders.

spit-smooth

we are sitting around the dining room table trying not to think
about how it is the last time we will. the ceiling hangs over
our eyes like a cloth so we touch hands, cheeks, lick salt
and dirt off each others noses. it tastes too good to be
the last time we all come to rest between my teeth. the mouth
is not made a place to keep things but we have given it
our best. we are worn spit-smooth, good under thumb
and tongue. i have done nothing that matters more than making
this, this object shaped like a good skipping stone built of our bodies,
of my little black dog, a hundred ripe bananas and the way we insist
on brushing our teeth at the same time. i want to draw in each
of us where i can’t imagine us not. it’s hard to lose something
all at once that you gained little by little. though i am not sure
it would be better to lose every piece of this house, this life we built
at the speed we made it. to wake up one morning with a hole
where the stove was. the next day, we undo our laundry and bicker
for the first time. some day the hole will be one of us. no, it is better
like this. there is a joy in seeing how far you can throw even
the afternoon’s best stone.

too cold for digging

it has been snowing as long as i can remember which maybe says more
about me than it does about the weather. the big oak paws at my window,
almost indistinguishable from the scratching of small warm things
that have made a home of my walls. i am glad something
has made a home of it. the world is in greyscale which we think is a certain
way 
of beautiful. sometimes limited visibility is a blessing. another blessing:
at the cemetery two blocks from the house that used to be ours,
the ground 
is too cold for digging, the metal shovel sticks to skin.
it is no use, anyway – here, there is nothing to bury. that’s the thing
about this kind of losing: 
the mourning begins and ends
with a breathing body. it’s just that now i can’t hear
the breath or sound of skin 
touching itself or your alarm
in the morning. two thousand miles of land 
will do that. you are not
a creature made for cold and that is all this midwestern state has ever
given you. maybe it is all i have ever given you. at breakfast i look at my life
without you the way i know you see everything: through a jar of honey,
the light 
through an orange slice. you are in love with the hour
before sunset and that 
i can’t compete with. i am waiting to love
whatever day ends the snow.