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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under pink light

i want you
to look at me:
strewn across
our bed, above
the blankets
but under pink
salt lamp light.
all crevice and
dip, no place
to balance a cup.
legs like a line
of tennis balls
inside a sock.
my mother said
don’t wear
horizontal stripes
they don’t do anyone
any favors. i haven’t
touched anything
striped in years.
i am all about
the long lines. all
about underwear
with more lace
than cloth, tight
in the right spots.
an hour under water
hot enough to cook
a small animal, no
more gentle cleansers.
you slide beneath
the blankets like
there isn’t a whole
human in front
of you. a whole
woman who could
be anywhere else.
what more can i do
to this body
to make you
want it?

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.

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.

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.

(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.