kiss her fingers and say:
you are a jungle.

I stretch,
yawn,
and out falls a
knuckle.

What does love feel like?
she asks.

I turn,

cough,
and out falls another.
kiss flowered mouth through teeth
and say:

like a wet machete
ripping through the jungle

 

“camouflage”

I am not a series of
timed periods.

I am no conclusion.
I am not in a hurry.
I am not a period in time.
I am not written for you.
I am a tiny quivering ellipsis
stretching wide
as I quake.
I’m hesitating

but there is nothing remiss
about obsession.
it’s core is
consumptive,
tough,
taut,
always actively engaged.
I stand, a long sentence
punctuated by the piqued heels of
men.
I am

opening the bottle, looking to see
where the cap dropped.
it is sedate, watching the light flitter across your rafters.
I am walking on dry dirt in bare feet,
late June.
it is an unreachable itch in blue tights
stalling under a black globe,
shifting in snow boots,
mid-February.
I am ordering Indian for one.
it is asking you your meat preferences,
eyebrows raised slightly,
lips curled in furtive
distrust.
I am kneeling in sweats & sports bra
to pick my Tibetan quartz off the floor.
it is partially naked, shivering without fuss,
placing glasses on your windowsill.
there is no glass of water.
you are smirking,
I am finishing undressing.
I am showing you the dressing.
it is the next morning: crisp,
sudden.
it is lonely.


I’m parting my hair differently.
I’m dyeing it blond.
I’m full of mercury caps &
warnings so I’m crazy &
grinding my teeth into my gums,
bastardizing everything.
it is still a black bob,
bangs on my lashes
overdrawn in blue pencil.
I am the oxygen:
yawning, laughing,
screaming at the mirage
across my closed eyelids,
while I’m still hanging there
twinkling from your rafters,
light dancing off my sallow clavicle.
we are started.
it takes everything.
I  become
adrift,

nothing.
it is the  movement.
I am the fit it takes.
is contentment the space between two forms of
expectation?
I say to the ceiling, not expecting
a return call, and 3:31 am, in a fetal position,
diagonal on my top sheet:
what finally becomes of feelings?
not expecting to suddenly
breathe easily or
take swift flight
in a different direction.

 

“smoke”

you can shake your fist at any
foaming coast but her
break remains unscathed,
her scorn in
waves,
her calm in
tides,
wet snarls pacified in
moon-swept stages,
depending on the stage.

you are barefoot,
some pedestrian gesture of worship,
avoiding the shells
and ghost crabs
that litter the beach
at gloaming.
you’re roaming again.

seek to slice wrists with guilt
and urgency
and pretension.
notice your veins rock,
glisten,
with munition.
life’s a seething blade and
the ways you have learned to assuage are more
permanent in placement
if you say it.
you watch your arms become
tributaries,
your feet become your fingers
now,
saying nothing
going forward.

watch your toes curl in
sand before you start wading.
you are seeking a quiet rest
inside of yourself.
you are seeking the wreck
that laid you.

 

1.

Once upon a time
I floated
through rooms.

We were ghosts
draped in human furs and  red velvet
to keep ourselves warm.
Candles unburned
on either side of town,
using illness as an anchor,
refrigerating whispers before we regret
finally saying something.
I  was a grave when I wanted to be
a stove.
Twirled  to the sound of your fluttering lashes:
broken and sloppy,
untimed, the way you glanced
towards me sometimes on street corners.
I could tell by the books you held,
the women you didn’t,
shield of solitude with  heavy eye contact,
a light coat and no gloves and no verbal complaint
about  the term “addict” being thrust upon us that
you didn’t just act strange–
you possessed it.

Sometime around the reemergence of allergies,
I sniffled patiently, sipped hot water with
lemon and basil.
Someone sang on a makeshift stage of
upside down milk crates.
You looked sidelong, gingerly,
an afterthought that led me here.
I played with my hem and insufferable silence.
You make me feel young, I mouthed
to the ground.
You returned the gesture with a half-cocked grin
that looked rehearsed and returned to
accompanying yourself.
The ground fell away and
I was a picked thorn.

Some perspiring flower,
I knelt in a corner
a stem growing from a red plastic cup
watching the fireworks
knowing this crowd rocked you
|in her drunk cradle.
You walked by with cotton candy
and no one else and
a relentless aposiopesis.
First sight and I’m swallowed,
staggered,
swollen with ideas of our
first life.
Come first light,
I will be buried in drool,
all blue everything
wandering around the whole self centric town
for a chance

to pass you.

Tiny eyes.
Barely a move.
Watch you pass effortlessly
like my continual gap years.
Turning to give each other one last glance
over our now bronzed shoulders.
Adjust my strap so you think about skin
(I’m swimming in it. )
That chilly way we do:
show a little set of teeth and move on
in a pool of cool air and unresolved disorder,
I keep coming back to the idea of first
meeting you:
circling your block,
opening my mouth,
making a statement
you can’t rebuke.
I need that
like a shark needs
blood.


“pools”

Rafters lit with strobe lights,
smoke lines,
broken paneled reflections of
31 years of bottled insights,
throttled insides.
Air laced with metallic smiles,
degeneracy,
sporadic flickers of someone else’s lighter.
I twirl absentmindedly.
Plume by Loscil.
I have no business here.

You watch me with
staggered silence,
smile wide and big and
sudden:
impact and
sides of me are split,
flowing.
Your laugh some
blunted  rifle.  

You watch me with 10 plus years of
a bawling inner child,
unmanageable reflexes
that end in stifled violence,
milky looks and a muted
predatory hunger.
I am wearing
my best calf impression:
doe-eyes and stealing all the glances,
blue tights, black heeled sandals that scuff the floor as I
daydream in public,
rub a soft elbow,
sip a virgin seltzer tonic with
cherries and some other light garnish
(stay as close to God as possible)
watch you with marrow armor and
calculated patience.
I’m a blue-black swirl of approachable silence.
Twirl somewhere nearby and deign to give you
open eyes for at least
twenty seconds at a time.
Laugh a swaying knife.

You asked for it.

 

“first dances”

 

miseries I keep:

seasonal allergies,
pictures of me glowing at seventeen,
dormant addiction,
overwatered plants that are never springing back,
insatiable sugar cravings:
the cavities they take,
the first taste of irreversible loss
(my brothers ashes),
ideas of you glancing towards us,
an infinite well of
faithlessness,
me glancing at you,
and you never turning back. 

covered in hot water & onslaught,
broken like the bed we used to make it
in, I wanted to
skin myself
to get rid of your fingerprints
but I didn’t want to be noticed
either.
instead, I sat cross-legged
under the shower
for forty five minutes
to steam some of it out.
it was a waste of water,
you might have said.

I usually go to bed by nine pm
swathed in cheap sheets I picked up
from a trash can: moth-bitten
and low thread count and I washed them
but you’re right it’s a sense of self-deprivation
I wrap myself tightly inside every night,
tortured by my low self worth,
absent flowers, cold feet,
lamp on next to me and
wax all over the unfinished table
you were making
before I threw the chair you had finished
down the stairs to get you to
open up.
here is what I need,
I might have screamed
but it ended in a soft bite to your
neck and a cloying kiss
you can tell has been rehearsed before.
it’s heavy;
my tongue flush with
little darted lullabies.

I’m up now and I
linger in the hallway,
nothing in my hand,
wave in my throat,
watching the front window,
voice hushed and brusque
and barely noticeable
when I finally move to speak,
to make my command on Earth,
withdrawing as it creeps
from it’s host,
like low tide,
like you,
your sudden
retreat.

“February”

“did you think I wore this city without pain?”
-Adrienne Rich

 

it’s midnight.
i’m with you
in a ball
on a quarter of my side.
you’re taking up a quarter of
my half of the bed with your engulfing
speculation and a partially harbored
rage, marking pages you skimmed
to later find your place where you felt,
at the time at least,
some things are better left theorized
than openly in flames.

I’m investigating an inner stillness that dissolves when exposed
 and counting
(to ten, my sponsor said)
contusions around my throat.
you’re learning about economics
this week,
hyperbole & statistics;
which way my freckles move
depending on my
frown,
the likelihood of a temper tantrum over
soap scum on anything I scrubbed,
unloved refrigerator pictures circa 1995,
premature forgiveness when I’ve still got to
fuck the bitter out but
someone gave me two weeks of yoga passes
so I’m suppressing it in down dog and polite nods
on a borrowed mat on the other side of
town.
I’m crooked but
I’m hiding my scoliosis  
in poses.

the amount of times my palms moved from open to
across your cheek and at what velocity;
how much of my useless back will face you tonight,
how long before one half of the bookshelf is cleared out,
how not to trust

                   you’re a poor investment, Sarah

anything that has to do with
us.
simply put
(count the marks on my throat)
you already know
(inhaling without prompt)
about sharpness.
              (my Christmas tree is in a dumpster)
some things shouldn’t be touched
  ( I’m in child’s pose)


and you should:
never bet on
anything
that talks.

 

“the economist”

shredded letters
I tried using
as fertilizer.
grow something from our
sudden valediction:
calendula,

jasmine to lighten the darker parts of my libations
that hold me under the bath water,
but give it a fragrance of cure.
violets, honeywort, honeysuckles wafting from the roach holes,
mugwort to get my blood moving again,
Easter lilies the cats shouldn’t touch so I hang them from the rafters
and let the leaves fall brown one by one;
let the paws scatter the ashes of that,
mice, my previous
laurels.

cheery dandelions in the cracks of the linoleum,
bromeliad at the doorway to protect me with her spikes;
self-effacing, straight and strong unlike the
hard, twisted ways I grow to be.
orchids to wilt in too much sunlight when I’m
doting myself to death,
a bouquet of roses to give my daughter when she becomes
moss in someone else’s garden,
feral evocation             an arboretum
started at the ankle. or

a whole cherry tree,
rooted.
chop down,
gorge,
something sweet to chomp while I’m choking down
the acidic
no,
the new full sun.

I prepare the dried lemon balm
in the mason jar,
two cups of hot water,
watch the window blanket itself in white flakes
of anesthesia,
embrace the change in seasons
without a phone call or text,
hexed postcard,
or really,
much incident at all
considering our history.

 

“succor”