(anxious)

it is feeling my heart like a rattlesnake
on and off again somewhere i can’t
touch or quite understand. was that too
long off or too long on i’m unsure. i am
too afraid of my own body, of it’s ability
to fail. just one wrong piece at the top
of the row of dominos. the waterfall.
i turn on everything: the television,
the computer, phone. every light in this
little room. it is so bright but still not
enough. sitting in myself hurts. sitting
hurts. i try to climb anywhere but inside
and can’t.

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going out with gusto

seven year old me said when i die
i want to go by tornado. scooped
up and whirled and whirled until
probably some fatal airborne collision
or the wind tired of me, dumped me
onto something sharp or hard or
just too far down. this was the best
i could imagine: some kind of glory,
gusto, pizzaz. maybe there’d be
a body maybe there wouldn’t.
the mystery felt good out loud.

i have considered other ways.
for a while it was getting smaller
until i winked out. one minute
we’re talking and maybe you
can see through me a little but
i am definitely there and the next:
air. surely it can’t be this lovely
but the imaginings were sweet.
this time it might have been closer
than the tornado but not much.

i spent a few months thinking
of keeping a tally on my hands
and a few days doing it. of what
it didn’t matter: maybe the cups
of coffee i drank or the number
of dogs i saw and then the number
of times i wanted to see a whole pack
of dogs all at once. that wishing
was the same as wishing for help
but i wouldn’t have believed it.

now mostly i’m boring. i try to forget
to fasten my seatbelt (though never
on the highway because somehow
that feels like too much). i chew
my fingers to bleeding and play
the overconfident pedestrian. i blink
comically slowly. it’s a silly charade
because it’s not. when i dream i dream
of tornadoes.

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.

grit/butter

when she imagines me
my face is covered
in flour. it is smeared
along the jawline
perched on the ends
of all the tiny face hairs
only visible because
there are thousands
of grains in the skin
of my cheeks. flour
is just grit that tastes
good with butter.
every thing tastes good
with butter. i haven’t
been with a girl in a long
time. so long that i am still
calling us girls when
we’ve grown women out
of ourselves. if she imagines
me with flour/face it means
she imagines me. that
is all i need to hear.

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.