the difference between submitting & surrendering


for the sake of semantics & sanity you wanted me to come down
off the ledge where i scrawled: i bequeath you all my nouns but
none of my verbs
–the difference between submitting & surrendering
something i won’t allow you to keep. i write in past tense but am
always thinking of the future, and if you were me you’d understand
what it is to stand at the edge of this 12th story building made
only of matchsticks with fire roiling in your throat, the doctors
just though it was heartburn, it was really heart-smolder–for the
record i may have submitted but i never surrendered, i say this
like gravity is something to be trumped, which i only can do when
i’m thinking of someone other than myself, which in this age of
digital self-consumption is very hard to do. let’s start a fire
in my memory and when it’s all over we’ll see what remains, if
your name makes for good verbiage, an action that can be done
over and over again, and i will play the deaf and dumb noun that
submits, but never, ever, surrenders.

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bidding wars


all i want for christmas is my four wisdom teeth removed and a chance
to tell you that though i have loved you for many years you’re still
just a guy in a suit. a red suit, a gray pinstripe suit, a hazmat suit,
it’s all the same. the skyline is silent and it is not the silence of snow
falling, but the deep thrall of over-exhaustion from way too much
shopping. i tried to buy a new heart on ebay but they’re hard to come
by this time of year, seems like everyone’s had a broken promise this
season. i bid on a clock to put inside my chest instead, but someone
else got it at the very last minute–it was not without some relief,
because now i don’t have to keep track of how long i’ve been holding
this empty glass. the wrapped boxes have been hollowed out and there’s
a note inside each one that reads you were expecting…? so please
make sure everyone gets one, we’ve set ourselves up for this all year
and now we sure as hell don’t want to be disappointed.

the sunlight has no gender


i waited with my intentions in my back pockets like coins rubbed smooth
by anne’s fingers, like the stones in virginia’s coat, like the knobs of
sylvia’s oven. my bare feet swung over this empty space i tried to fill
with you, and a knot of wind gusted up. i was beginning to understand
that the breadth between your hands holds the shape of futures yet un-
furled, not like flags, but like tiny leaves that might make some bitter
tea, the black dregs of my hair at the bottom, the hair that i so longed
to be done with. each night i would tear at it with the scissors & sparks
would fly, metal-stranded resistance, silver spite that would not part
from my scalp. i was doomed to be a woman forever. i wore men’s clothes &
painted a mustache on my face, though i hated mustachioed men, and didn’t
know how to ask you to shave yours. i don’t know what kind of look you were
trying to go for, with that thin line of hair stippled on your upper lip,
and i don’t know who i thought i was kidding with my hips that were not
straight enough and my girlish mouth. why must i sing this siren song
when my throat hurts so. i wanted to ask anne but could not find her, she
was in the garage, and sylvia i thought was baking a pie in the kitchen.
i became one of virginia’s stones, not nestled in her pocket but cast
across the water, where boys and girls stand next to each other in pin-
stripe suits to confuse predators, and the sunlight has no gender.

the butterfly’s wings being ripped off effect


this is not god’s work. nor is it the devil’s hands,
and why was there such a protest over the couple naming
their child lucifer, it means carrier of light. we all carry fire
some of us in our hands, some of us up our asses. you were
trapped in a candleflame that has since been extinguished
and now we all wander in the dark because of you. you think
the butterfly’s wings will not cause the hurricane if you
could just crush it quickly enough. you believe you can
throw stones without rippling the water’s surface. i say
to you this: water will be moved just as hearts and minds
may be moved, though they are made of different substance,
and when i say it hurts to see your picture in the frame
where you don’t live anymore (i don’t say this to you of
course) i just hope you’ve got a big enough umbrella
for the tsunami that’s coming.

divination IV


you are not allowed to come to me until you are bare even of skin.
i believed in the sound of your voice, not knowing at first it
was only an echo. so many things are just copies of copies said
long ago, the originality of the words lost in their replicated
syllables: i love you, i love you. or worse still, i would die for you.
it is easy for you to say these things when i am digging my nails
into the exposed nerves of your body. i just wanted to make you
come up with something new. your heart looks like everybody else’s.
your organs boring and your blood always the same color. i found
your veins of gold and melted them down to make a pendulum
that swings over two words reflected in red candlelight.
but neither of them are original.