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.

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(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.

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.

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.

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.

pinned

it’s snowing in the first week of april
and it feels like it’s all i can take.
it heaps on hoods and branches
while i dance frantically in our empty living
room. the music is so loud i would fear
for the speakers if i could. i’m drinking straight
from the moonshine jar i’ve been saving
for a special time. i wanted to wait,
share it with you or at least drink it
while you watched, kiss you a hundred
sixty proof and let the dog lap up
the spills. instead i’m left with the best
option that doesn’t include you. what i must
look like to passerby through the windows:
a sugar drunk girl, body like a sheet
pinned to a clothesline. i hide the moonshine
behind a lamp where i hope you’ll find it whenever
you are here again. when i hope you’ll worry
just a little. i crack a screen-less window
and the snow swirls in like a cloud.
it is not wrong for you to be gone
today. there’s no day where it’s wrong
for you to be gone. it’s that you are gone
on all the wrong days when it’s too snowy
or rainy or sunny or anything to read quietly
on the couch or appreciate red wine or
pretend i’m doing anything other
than trying to make someone on the sidewalk
see me and think i look happy.

west wash

never have i had a schedule like this: one that feels
do-this-every-day-til-you-die. the same 1.1 miles
to work, sometimes puddles sometimes ice.
i pass a section 8 apartment building and try
to say good morning to everyone who will look
me in the eye. maybe it is polite habit maybe
i am just trying to help. i pass the buildings between
nine and nine fifteen. the cast is often the same:
woman with daughter holding her backpack strap
in her hand, dragging the tired old bag behind her.
middle aged man walking ridiculous puff of a dog,
its screeches audible through headphones.
i smile at him too but hate that thing, a sorry excuse
for a pet. the man who looks barely older than me
with a face full of potholes. his lips look indented
where the cigarette sits. he paces while he smokes,
as if walking the same six sections of sidewalk
might counteract the tar and carcinogens. i take
an extra long step to avoid an uncapped needle.
i am wearing boots with soles as thick as a steak
but you can never be too careful. i say good morning
as i pass and he breathes out heavy, lungfuls of
smoke catch in my hair and i know the lady
who sits next to me at work will notice the smell.
i wonder if he will do this every day now. if i will say
good morning and he will douse me in cigarette stink.
another addition to the list of rituals that come
with this sort of living. lady-who-sits-beside-me will think
i’ve taken up smoking. perhaps i will take up smoking.
the only reason not to smoke is so people won’t think
you smoke—it can look unbearably cool. cigarettes
are unfair this way. if you already look like the bassist
for some up and coming, cigs can only make
you cooler. but if you are standing outside
section 8 housing with skin like a bad backroad,
the smoke smells terrible and nicotine nails
peel like old wall paper. it is not a life
i would choose. luckily it is not a choosing game.
maybe some morning i will step on the needle instead.