9/17/18

things that were once hard to love
have become precious with the threat
of absence. it is so hard not to be afraid.
what parts of you have already begun
to grow distant? i am scared to sit even
on the other side of the table. i wash
your forks and love you. i put your shoes
in a row by the door and love you.
i touch my mouth to your side of the bed
and try to imagine it as just the other
side. this is a helplessness i don’t know
what to do with. you are drunk and talking
so loudly, clearly in your sleep it sounds
like a wedding toast. i put your liquor
hands over my face and love you, still.
i never learned to want things
i can’t just worker harder to keep.

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two snippets~

you sit outside until we grow
dark. i can hear you like a mouse
in a box, the shuffle of a small
thing without light. how can i
tell you i would listen to you run
into cardboard walls face first
forever. your arms seem wide
enough to hold anything all
at once: when you pick up the dog
it is almost too much. you are growing
into yourself. there are fewer
empty spaces. the dog and i
are both helpless: legs or arms
reaching for another minute tight
to your body.

***

this is how it wins. first
it is on you like a tick or a bit
of sharpie or a small piece
of jewelry. then it is around your
neck all feathers and soft but so
heavy. it slides down shoulders
a cloak now or a dress now
it is bigger than the body now you
are being worn. you say little but
make a good broach.

little lives

fingers are biscuit blistered, risen
like dough into fine red mounds.
liquid grown hard under skin, like pomegranate
seeds ripe with pressure. these hands
could be your mothers
but aren’t. have you ever rubbed butter
between thumb and pointer until cornmeal?
it takes long enough to warrant a nap.
the world has ninety babies in that time.
in the oven the soft circles grow and grow
brown with age 
like little lives. we are hardly
any slower.
if you can tell a woman’s age
by her palms i worry i am already too far
along. this sense of time makes me frantic to make
more biscuits coffee little people pieces of good furniture.
all good things are either delicious or permanent.
butter is better because it melts. children are better
because they don’t. if you get flour in your hair
you’ll go gray early. sprinkle the salt
from high above the baking sheet. no, higher.
these could have been your mother’s hands
but weren’t.

cat funeral

i am pulling the kayak from the lake
when i see it: dead cat, mossy and waterheavy,
body pillowed almost unrecognizable. white paws
stick out from it’s body like a child’s drawing: circle
with four lines. i want a shovel and a piece of quiet
dirt but i also want to give a good wringing, twisting
out the wet until matted but living. my wrists are
not strong enough to wring water from lungs.
i think about the world like this: i am always
the deficit. i can’t pin this accident to a clothesline.
the cat bumps against the rocks and says nothing.

the blue-green algae is blooming poison. it’s the biggest bloom
anyone can remember. the water looks walkable, solid with green.
i think it is the whole lake in mourning for this dead thing, a field
of tiny flowers, the procession moving in ripples. nature knows
how to throw a funeral. the water climbs over my sandals and it’s all
the same. toes water is dead cat water is every water in this big hole.
i can’t help but feel too late. i am not responsible for everything
i could have prevented but it knocks around behind my chest
all the same. i can’t tell which end is the head. it must be hard to die
out in the open.

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.

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.