the furniture is not as indifferent as you might
think–every scratch, every spill is cataloged
and remembered in the long history of dead wood
and tempered glass. there will be a revolt one
night in the living room while we are sleeping,
and we will wake to find all the furniture
clinging to the ceiling. the stuffed chairs will
refuse to come down until we negotiate who gets
to sit on who. i will be the ottoman where the
curio will rest its weary feet and you will be
the table where all suburban dreams are laid out.
only the jaded lamps, their switches fingered
too much, will throw off the light of scorn,
having no legs to mourn.
does not care
whether or not
i have a penis.
you’ll come here when i’m not expecting you–
i will be caught with brush and bottle in hand
trying to bleach the stains out from the tile.
we’ll slow-dance in the hallway, right before
you pretend to slit my throat. i won’t let out
a death-cry even then, won’t give you my sound
even though you had hoped and waited for it,
a scream, just a moan, just something to let
you know i was alive. we will rearrange the
furniture so that the couch holds notes of
blue, and the chair will sit in the corner
screaming that we haven’t done it right as
the bleach seeps into our eyes staring out
and our hands crumble like old grout.
safe word is strong
they tell you to pick a word
you wouldn’t normally use
but how strong
is your safe word
when you never use it
how strong am i.
safe word is avocado
but that sounds too masculine
today is the day i wake up in bed
and decide i am a girl
but needing some evidence to back this up
i feel for my genitals
beneath my boy’s boxer shorts
and am not convinced
safe word is hyacinth
dammit, someone picked that one already.
[this is a poem about my genitals.
you just don’t know it.]
safe word is ‘fifty shades of robert pattinson’s beautiful chiseled face beneath a full moon right before he is about to kiss me’
i’d rather just have you hurt me instead.
today i am a beautiful boy who is only pretending to be a girl.
i press myself up against you and you feel something,
you’re pretty sure,
but you’re not. quite. sure.
safe word is stop
but i don’t want you to stop.
safe word is no
no no no
(yes yes yes)
safe word is yes,
the unsafest safe word of them all.
safe word is just a word.
you’re never really safe.
i don’t know today who or what
there’s nothing safe about that.
some girls wear dresses and feel (oh i hate the word) girly.
i wear a dress and i feel like an imposter.
so i choose words closest to my heart
i choose words like different
and sliding scale.
and then my words are smiles have no gender
you feel me as you feel the curvature of the earth
which is to say, not at all
i reconcile with this. or at least, i attempt in my own way to reconcile with this. included in this endeavor are acts such as trying to fake out gravity and resisting the change of the seasons (on snowy days you’ll see me standing at what appears to be your horizon [for yours is not the same as mine] wearing my bermuda shorts)
but on days when i stand in the kitchen and remember
standing in your kitchen sipping coffee
from a misshapen blue and brown glazed clay mug
(the details are of such importance)
i thought you touched my elbow
i thought you touched me
which sounds more romantic?
we feel pain.
can we also touch pain?
(i don’t have an answer for you either. i suggest we both sleep on it, on top of my body, and wake in the morning with clarity and of course, more coffee. i thought i knew what it was to want something from inside myself, rather than outside myself, thought i knew what it was to demand a certainty from myself. i thought i knew alot of things.)
you feel me as you feel raindrops hit your body
when you’re already underwater.
i have only swam naked once, in the middle of an octagonal swimming pool lit by weakly refracted light. i was careful not to touch you. we dared each other, though i didn’t really have to dare you, you would’ve done it anyway, with or without me. it began to rain.
draw me a map that leads to nothing
sing me a song that sounds like nothing
for no thing
25,000 miles and then rest. i started this journey on my own, but sometimes others come and walk with me for a while. then melt away. no one has ever touched my elbow in a way that made me remember. no one has ever touched me in a way that i can remember. and i want so badly to remember.
i am the bullet that will pierce your thigh.
they will not be able to get all of me out of you.
i will be the stain inside your bone when they pin up the pictures to the light.
then will you remember?
i shook you off to spin you out into the empty air where even
molecules of oxygen shunned you, breathing my own atmosphere
and exhaling carbon dioxide for the sake of the trees. trees
you could leave, trade in for the city swallowing my footsteps,
rattling me like tin can bones through windshield catastrophe.
but who would want to do that. you were not what your paperwork
said you were, and i have no time for shredding documented lies.
the trees cannot hate like i do and i cannot die each year like
the trees do. i will ignite the air and burn the memory of you
so that it may not rise again to steal my breath.
you cannot hear the echo if there is nothing
for the sound to bounce off of
look for divinity in starvation
when the rib cage fails to emerge
xylophonic resonance within the skull
starkness of body across a white desert
(pluck out my eyes, they weigh too much)
eschew colors like cream and chocolate
stick to nude and shadow
(for it weighs nothing)
we were force-fed ourselves
and filled up on emptiness
yet were heavier still.
if you’re sleeping with one eye open, you’re being cautious
if you’re sleeping with both eyes open, you’re probably dead
but i’m not paranoid. i know exactly where i stand: on empty air
i’m supposed to be straight but i’d be lying
if i said i wasn’t queer for you
which is to say
i think you’re a little strange
but i’m sick of being strangers
and my heart feels the strangest
when i look at you sleeping with your eyes closed
and know you can
because you’re by my side.
but this is not a love poem. this is a like poem.
i like when you chew on my lower lip
like it’s marshmallow candy
i like when you suck the marrow
out of my words
and chew on some silly thought that i had
and probably didn’t mean
but i mean this:
when my breath presses on your eyelashes like they are piano keys
when the chorus is a sigh, over and over again,
i will make sure to write down every name you breathe in your sleep
even though it is not mine.
a bite you pretended not to notice
an angry blister of words
a rash of accusations
an itch for something you can’t have
you’ve said her name eight times in the last ten minutes
a word of caution to ward against poison:
don’t feel sorry for the widowed spiders.
they’re alone for a reason.
i swallowed the sun
at the nape of your neck
to save you from being hanged at midday.
go to the sea with its wordless singing
and from there
we will give up our tongues to the birds
and be sifted out from the sand
our lies heavy enough to sink to the bottom.
in spite of what i might have heard about you, body,
i sank down between folds of skin and hair follicle
even when i only tried to quell the murderous quaking
in my heart ensconced in desire divided.
this is not a poem about my body.
who was that body. who was that person.
i slammed my palms into skin and the elasticity
proved to me we were still kids.
there was hope for this.
we could recover.
“bounce back,” is what they say,
as if we were rubberband balls,
all convoluted and twisted
(though of course we were).
and how are you supposed to tell your child
one day she will hate her body and that there
is nothing you can do about it?
no ointment, no salve, no words strung together
to explain to her that we are all rotting alive.
now you tell me what is beautiful.
i walked over my own body without recognizing it,
ignoring the scars and even the tattoos,
finding strength in cellulite because
“everyone’s got it, hon”
and you can rip the story right out from under
the skin and no one will ever know it’s yours.
your dust is my dust is her dust is the world’s ash.
but we are not dust yet. so press your ear
against my chest. and listen.
we lie beneath a streptoccocus moon where i envisioned
your surgeon’s knife ready to make the incision, ready
to scour my insides with sandpaper where dwells all
the infection of the ages: the jealousy and the anger
and the spite–it winds through my organs like an asp
and even my heart is bitten. where did i come from:
the earth spit me up like sour formula and the water
delivered me from its waves onto the shore to say it
was done with me. we lie beneath a bloodred moon and
you are the one who gets to decide if we are reclining
with ease or begetting falsehood. when i lie, i lie by
myself. so get off this rock and leave me alone.
she has eaten the fruit
from the tree that knows
she’ll never be a size zero
where the sound of judgment
comes from the scrape of ribs
against bleached cloth
where starvation is sacrament
emptiness is communion
no need for reconciliation
a faith so strong
she can taste salvation
without the calories
a faith so strong
she would die
in its name, for
she is blessed
not by water
made holy by man
the very dirt
that will bury her.
a slosh of rain stirs the gutters; you’d rather a slosh of gin,
some clear liquor made for searing throat and gutting brain cell
but then you remember that you don’t drink, it doesn’t mix well
with the lithium, and i hear your voice through the phone, a tin-
can voice banged out with a heavy metal rod on which a heart
is skewered. you can bandage the wound but it will still fall
to sepsis, it will turn into a putrid black hole and still
we will drown ourselves with vodka and make this a heavy art
where we have clumsy hands and a crooked needle stolen
from a rusted-out compass that never stops spinning
and i suture you back together while the pain is blinding
only to realize it is myself i have sewn up with love so swollen.
it was a white collar
printed with red lipstick
that gave you away
you said we could do it over
if only i could forgive and forget.
if i only i could forgive and forget
a deep red pulse in my mouth
dropped into a bucket of white paint
that we used for the bedroom.
i hate the color pink.
i hate the color pink
some liminal threshold between
red and white that surrounds us
and a dozen empty buckets
in the bedroom.
in the bedroom
where you are in my mouth
you paint me little white lies
i splatter red all over the walls
and it is not paint.
muscle molts in your mouth, not in your hand. i don’t know how to play cards anyway, except for spit and go-fish, and i know how to do one better than the other. some words that were meant as a diversion were played, and you can’t hide those dirty fingernails under the glare of a brilliant distraction of a diamond puked out of the skin of a ring finger, like it was there all the time, yeah, it was there all the time. like a fucking abscess those words swell in your mouth and i’ve perfected my poker-face even when my heart is breaking. my heart is breaking. my heart is breaking and i have no king only these spades that are trying to bury me. peel a layer of lie off your tongue that remembered a fragment of phrase that keeps a space like a pocket of air caught in your mouth. speak me again and i will make you choke. slit my throat with an ace and we’ll call it even.
smelt summer into a heart-shaped mold and call it love
that cracks at the first hint of frost. winter has wrapped
a thread around my spine and when i press my fingers against
the glass, webs of ice flicker through, until i can break
everything in the room just by breathing–staggered breath
that comes like a deathbed canticle in december. you think
the thaw will save you. but you will only drown.
knick knack patty wack give a dog a benadryl
this old man’s got a tab of acid and an electric drill
one, two, buckle my shoe, three, four shut the door
on my fingers again and again till i can’t feel no more
hands that once held your sweet shape like the moon
that no cow jumped over, just a razorblade at midafternoon
it cuts and it cuts like the sharp edge of a story told
that delights young children and horrifies the old
because we know what people are really capable of
and that the train is coming and all it takes is a single shove
to end the dream and wake up with someone sucking your face
and it’s not a prince, it’s just empty fucking space
maybe one day we’ll shake off the drug of the happy ending
close the book for good and get back to living
and all the tears will crawl back into our eyes
and there will be no more lies, no more lies.
my heart is made of poppy and there is a prism lodged
in my throat. when i speak i make rainbows. a rhombus
of light on a closed eyelid, a dream half-articulated
in a sigh. your eyes are watercolor blue but when they
are next to my yellow skin and red lips they bleed to
brown. a kiss turns to a fractal, a memory to a beam
of sunlight streaming in through the slatted blinds.
i promise you this: find the mote that i sit and wait
upon and all of the tears you have cried will turn
i cut open the ocean with a razorblade and swallowed its blue
heart whole, it beats inside me now a cold pulse, a metronome
for how time passes engulfed in thoughts of what came before
all this land. i could not stand on water; you could not pull
me up fast enough from your languid repose in the clouds.
the mermaids all laughed and combed their hair while i ran my
fingers over my shaved head and wished for just one bubble of
air that might contain fragments of words that you once spoke
to me. but you never did say those words, and such wishful
thinking only gets me a lungful of salt tinted pink with blood
where the tip of the crescent moon pricked me as you swung
low over my sweet coffin coming to carry me home to a slit
in the ocean where i can forget your face and renounce the sky.