(10/13/18)

what do i say except for falling
asleep with your arms around
my head like a basketball
is the greatest thing i have ever
gotten to know. the weight of
your arms is too much,
your chest puts my breathing
at half strength and i can’t
turn or scratch or move anything
without waking you and it will
always be worth it.

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the last sad poem

i wish now i had written you
more love poems. i wish i hadn’t
written us as drowning when
we weren’t, wish i hadn’t written
the fear into domesticity so soon.
i wish i had always chosen to be gentle.
now, we are all wish. maybe we have
always been that, all each other’s
almost-what-i-want’s. i keep
referring to us in the past tense.
i try to convince myself the unconscious
doesn’t know anything. it is not
a meaningful slip. these little lies
are okay but they seem to grow
on their own. once i nearly convinced
myself you aren’t leaving. it was
only a second but it felt so good.
what pieces do i get to keep?
the way you and the dog sleep
with your bodies curled the same.
how you push up your glasses
with your middle finger like they might slide
off your nose and keep
sliding. the angle of your mouth
when you are disappointed, the little
shake of your head. how tight
your curls get when they’re dirty.
once when we stood in front
of art we both probably thought
was stupid and i wanted you
to keep me like a quarter under
your tongue—the secret is
worth the most. it used to be hard
to tell what it is that i love: knowing
there will be a body in the bed
each morning, or that it is only
ever your body. maybe it has just
become too hard to imagine
anyone else. these little lies pile
up like spare change.

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.

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.

(Valentines Day)

it is the first day of the season of snowmelt.
the water rises from the concrete and
slips in through boot seams. i am walking
home from a job i don’t quite hate
and there are people on the sidewalks again,
their jackets unbuttoned hands
without gloves—i see a person’s ears
outside for the first time in months. i know
this is supposed to make me happy.
i wonder if i should stop one of these people
bare faces still all cracked skin
and tell them i’m not doing well. how do you say
it’s the season we remember this city
doesn’t suck, but i think winter
and i grew too close this year. it is only
a feeling. maybe things are going
too well, i just need to be taken down
a notch. maybe my brain is forgetting
to make the right stuff. a friend tells me
if my life was really as great as i say it is
i wouldn’t feel so shitty all the time.
you are feeling how you are feeling
for some reason, she says. my boots
are soaked and i don’t have the patience
for this. my face is salt wet. if anyone asks,
i will blame the trees dripping their melt.
it feels good to pretend anyone might ask.

for a friend

it gets dark too quickly while a past-friend
talks at me over the phone. it is almost incomprehensible
but not quite. i know her girlfriend left her, i know
she has trouble keeping food down i know
i cannot be much help from this far away.
i am not even sure if i could help from across
the table. she says she is on the moon
and i believe her: she has no job no friends
in her city she just sits and thinks herself
into winter bed darkness. she accuses me

of keeping myself busy of keeping myself
to myself, of moving my hands enough
so i don’t have to think myself into anywhere.
i want to tell her it is not a defense mechanism.
i am not afraid to be beneath the blankets alone.
moving your hands makes heat and other bodies


like heat and that is how you find friends. i cannot
keep at it like this. this is the third call
today and my ear hangs from my head like
a corded telephone. she asks me what i would do
if i was in her place. what i can’t say is
i would never be in your place. you have to move
your hands. you have to dress yourself and leave
your bedroom leave your bedroom Amy

get out of there. there is a reason nobody stays
on the moon very long. this is not an avoidance
it is just what people do.

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?