day 4

unwrap the fabric that keeps your bones
together. you never thought you’d be carried
like this: bound by four corners of knotted
cloth. look at what is left: a sternum in three
pieces, wrist bones worn river rock smooth,
a couple of teeth. the sharp ones: tearing instead
of grinding. how does nature pick what survives.
this is your sack of treasures: what a child keeps
beneath their mattress. a bed full of teeth.
the molars are a blessing, then. there is nothing
worth anything here. who would want a bit
of femur. a nervous boy uses a bit of your skull
as a worry stone.

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day 3

this body is in pieces at the bottom
of the stairs. what a hassle to collect
yourself when you hands are their own.
what part of myself am i in? i can see
each part which worries me. the basement
floor and i develop a kind of kinship. we bleed
into each other and talk about feet
on our chests. which chest is mine? which one
of us is bigger depends on how you measure.
which chest is mind depends on where
the heart is. i wonder if i hit my head, if i am
wetness instead of splinters. it depends on if
the heart knows the feel of its own hands.

day 1

the first licks of spring always come this way: wet and over-welcome,
worse at first with no care for your dry socks and still all muck. i wish
we were not the degree of desperate that makes us thankful for this.
the days are tepid and long. the weeks are bathwater turned sour.
we sweat in our winter jackets but are too scared not to wear them.
what if it gets cold without the sun, if the wind picks up. what if our
bare arms touch.

cabin fever

we fuck hard enough to knock
the himalayan pink salt lamp off
the bedside table, send the organic
lube and shea butter tumbling
onto the carpet. the salt lamp remains
intact, but we check only once
we’re finished. the lamp falls about
every other time. but we replace
it in the same spot. we are dutiful
with our ions. this is winter fucking—
it is frantic, too little heat then too
much, a desperate attempt to feel
like the day accomplished something.
we try new things. some of them work.
most don’t. the sweat freezes on our
noses, condensation turns ice
on the window. it is us against the cold—
the only way to prevent us against
us. february can turn anyone.
the snow would be beautiful
if there was just less. your skin
is too pink under salt light. the days
pile up like a drift in front of our door. 

and edges

today is about finding what new things i can rub
myself against. chair back, door frame, neighbor’s
mail box. step off the sidewalk at a bad angle,
knock shoulders with a stranger. so what
if they are a little angry. i never unlearned
bad attention is better than no attention.
i have been so long this quiet domestic:
carpet beneath my toes / refracted
sunlight. i am ready for a brush with
anyone. the vines on the porch have been
dead since november (it is january now) but
when they were thick-full of water
you could touch the leaves with eyes shut
and imagine them into flesh. there are surely
enough bodies in this world for each of us
to get a bit of one that isn’t our own but it isn’t
like that. how is it we earn pieces of each other.
how innovative can i be with this one body
and all the stone, leaves, railings
and edges i can reach. maybe
there will be a dog somewhere
and it will run itself through
my fingers until my hands are fur hands
and the owner leashes both of us.

a work poem

my boss at the bakery touches the inside of my arm
with a hot spatula and yelps for me. i am already a grid
of injury, it’s hard to tell which burn is new. i smear lavender
oil over half the limb just to be sure. slick and shining, i am stunning
over stove top: all grease and flecks of potato and now the smell
of herbs and grapeseed. i want him to think of me every time
he fries an egg. i imagine he is the kind of man
who buys organic vegetables but smokes cigarettes when he drinks.
it’s boring to be too self-preservationist. he refills my water glass
with coffee and pretends it’s an honest mistake. the only real gift
he has given me: a small wooden-handled stainless steel blade,
foldable and very sharp. practical. i keep it tucked in my winter
jacket pocket, practice opening it one-handed while walking.
the pocket hangs in strips of cut cloth against my side. immediately
after metal hits skin, it’s a welt like the backbone of an old cat.
twelve hours, the welt has melted down. just a streak of red. two days
and it is like a smashed earthworm on the skin. what a lovely
spot of ruin. i peel apples with the small knife while he cracks
eggs into hissing butter.