(edit)

here is the situation: we are drunk walking
the dog, one a.m., vilas avenue.
neither quite naked, hot
from drinking and dancing and being near
each other. being young is funny that way:
it never takes much. stop at the intersection
to kiss and a middle aged couple catches
up to us. man says: we used to do that
when we were young. chuckles. the woman
is suddenly close—her face floats in
like a lantern. her hands are on my shoulders.
she tries to pull my gaze into focus.
are you okay. what are you guys doing out here.
do you live close by. do you need anything.
i don’t know why this is happening. of course
i am okay. i live at the green house on the corner.
i don’t think i need anything – i guess a pizza
sounds good but—
she looks hard at my boyfriend, peels away
his skin with her eyes. now i see.
the woman’s fingers take to my shirt buttons
i am all done up in a second. i want to tell her
this is a love you don’t worry for i have never
been safer. we are just being kids.
the man says: let’s stop bothering these two.
grabs her arm. she shakes her head but
leaves us, my buttons done tight to my throat.

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last light

i am tired of writing angry poems
but you are making it so hard.
i drank four cups of tension tamer tea
yesterday and still i found myself
with my fingers wrapped around
the dog’s ears like yanking a girl’s ponytail.

i am not normally like this. the last light
is still touching the tops of houses
and i have been walking a long time
the key is don’t stop nobody gets away
by being the fastest they do it by staying
in motion. my sweater is too warm
and the wool is drinking in the wet.

i don’t know if i’m punishing you
or myself or the dog trotting beside me.
the snow gets in between his toes
and he hobbles along on three legs
until it melts. imagine that, having no hands
to fix things. just waiting for it to stop.
the sunset i drank it i think because
it’s gone and i have been running a long time

the sweat freezes on the point
of my nose i am lost somewhere
the city buses don’t go. i hope
you missed the last light it tasted
delicious. another cup of tension
tamer tea down and this time i didn’t skimp
on the xanax. i hope you get snow
between your toes.

i cannot get to my mouth in time

i am trying hard to get the vegetables
into the oven on time. i want the table
artfully set when he gets home. i want him
to kiss me and be sure of it. i am wrist deep
in cauliflower, brussels sprouts soaking up
olive oil. the butternut squash fights me
with everything it has – imagine cutting a log
with a kitchen knife. “butternut” is not much
of a warning. the knife slips, cleaves my finger
like ripe fruit i cannot get to my mouth in time.
i wonder how blood tastes with nutmeg, cracked
pepper. i am too slow to avoid the damage.
it is the only red in the bowl. i can smell the iron.
i was going to make chicken, too—but now
there is no choice. i fry a steak on the stove
and mix it in, big pieces of quick seared meat.
blood to disguise blood. i keep one hand
beneath the table as we eat. when the blood
drips onto the floor, the dog takes care of it.
after dinner, he kisses me and is sure of it. 

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.

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?

(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.