a man who used to know me said that
i am not worldly, as i once claimed.
even if i add up all the empty moments,
it still leaves a taste, a richness in my mouth
like the cake i will not eat because i am
terrified of gaining weight, so i stuff down
cigarettes to stave off my hunger, but
the hunger goes deeper and deeper still.
i didn’t fall from heaven. i grew from the
earth beneath the pavement, in cracks
and voids, pushing through, just to see
a bit of sunlight. my hands often have
scrapes and cuts on them and i don’t
remember where they came from–
it is with this same kind of carelessness
that i leave the front door unlocked, but
am not nervous about anyone entering.
and should i be. what will come, will
come, through windows and broken
screens that flap in the breeze in the
hall of my heart. i would devote myself
to the sky but i’m not sure if it would
matter. i am not your angel, and i proved
it to you by leaving, as i have left every-
one before, before they could leave me.
i do these things out of a fear i can’t
pinpoint, out of a vulnerability that i
must cover with earth before anyone
sees what may fruit. these pills are
supposed to balance my brain, but i
am already upside-down and gone
before you even knew i was there.
the forecast is partly cloudy and chance of kisses 50%
but these lips have flown from my mouth, and the dry
season is coming upon us. some days i just don’t feel
like reading any self-help books, when i am very far away
from myself, a shadow with a cigarette. my edges start
to mingle with the atmosphere and i long for the sea
to help me remember infinity, because the myth of the
horizon has been already been revealed. these vaporous
tendencies don’t mean i contradict myself, and though
the words vanish in the air i can feel them still hanging
like earrings from my earlobes. there is truth to be
found even in the dissipation of half-hearted promises
and i don’t lie to you, the birds overhead, or myself,
i just change my mind often and life isn’t to be filled in
with one neat little bubble per question. the blood
inside me ebbs and flows, that inner tide that carries
with it the questions that nobody can answer but
myself, and as my shadow lengthens i feel myself blur,
and go softly into the stillness there.
why does the rush and torrent of the soul
so seldom break out from beneath our skin
we’ve got trigger hair tempers and mistaken ire
carrying the carcass of truth in our hands
obscuring the light, that although never fading,
can dim until we can no longer see in the dark.
blindly we reach with our hands and will grasp
anything near, even the necks of our beloved,
desperate to keep the old adages true,
that we are flawed and broken-winged
that the lines in our paper hands can never be
unfolded or uncreased, that the ink that dries
beneath our fingernails will never fade.
go soak your hands in the salty ocean,
knowing to move when the tide comes in,
betraying not a single grain of sand with
your footprints because we are carried
forward by the wind, and we leave no trace–
not even the sun will recognize us at dawn,
unmade and spotless in the light.
the seed has been planted
the willow will wave
the redwood will tower
and the oak will be strong
against your back
this is how you learn
how to lose anger
how to keep sadness spacious
that space within the heart
that knows its own death
pour yourself like water into clear glasses
let them drink from you
and see their own reflections
and know who they are
the glass is most beautiful
right as it slips from your hand
right before it hits the floor
right when it shatters
not everything broken
begs to be fixed.
where were you when the clouds hazed over the moon
when the most acute longings boiled to the surface like a sea on fire
i have waited an eternity for just a few moments to rest
a few minutes to sit and catch my breath in a field of marigolds
swallowing petals like poultices for my lungs that are weary of breathing
i am a curtain filling with light as the dawn breaks over the line of the sea
the billowing wind that carries with it the sense of treason against dreams
and the singular thought that i might never get to do what i was meant to
here in this incarnation where i gasp as i run towards the shoreline
that would let me give myself to that primordial rush
that swells beneath my skin battered by memory,
that would forgive me of my mistakes plentiful as rain,
that would finally let me unyolk myself, and be free.
she is cloud-eater, destroyer of perfection
that illusion that held us so deep in prayer
how predictable our heartbeats are
how the things we can count on
so often drag us into the ground.
she rubs the temples she sits within,
entrenched in the memory that binds her,
a red-eyed heaviness that is not reflected in the mirror
but still penetrates and pervades.
the sluice of the present becomes the past
and she cannot tell where one ends and begins
a glistening fish that evades her severed hands.
midnight drips from the sky, a ruined canvas at most
she brings a palm to her mouth to taste the salt
that will bury her yet before this eviction of ghosts
we were no match for the sunlight,
these dust motes in our eyes
but we broke the seals on the sills
and let in the day.
the things we must face: crowded
grocery stores, the drive to work,
fathers with deteriorated minds,
cavities in our teeth, how i don’t
love you like i used to.
when we cough clouds of memory
float forth, but it’s hazy as a half-
we miss the things we never had,
and the fingerprints on your heart
are mistaken for maps of mountain
ridges that we have never traversed.
eventually we will forget everything,
even the pain of forgetting itself.
i’ve had writer’s block going on two years now.
but it’s time to get to work.
your tongue lies still and cold inside your mouth
the color of cigarette ash on snow
your mouth has become a coffin
a sepulcher of words
What I hate most about going out is that everyone always looks like everyone else to me. I know that person. No I don’t. I remember you. I’ve never seen that person before. Or have I. How did you not see that, he says to me, the body under the yellow tarp in the middle of the highway on our way to work. Because everyone looks like everyone else, I don’t say.