primordial

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.

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eviction

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

memory loss

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-
remembered dream.

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.

what i hate most about going out

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.

if this is where i must find you

if this is where i must find you
a ruined footpath in the woods
the edge of a shadow against a
wall of water, a salt-stained shaft
of driftwood, endlessly drifting,
then this is where i will find you,
aggressive as a bird even in dreams.
there was one piper, a clutch of
ducklings that spun apart like a
clove of garlic beneath the thwack
of the blunt edge of the knife, in
a kitchen where the roots were
baking and i did not know how,
i could not tell you why, i never
gave you a copy of that poem.
if this is where i must find you,
then let me find you dead and cold,
with only the feather of the piper
between your palms, on a shore
where i lay scattered as broken
shells, denuded and ever-quenched
in your memory.

the office.

she detested the maneuvering and sidestepping that always accompanied
the crossing over the threshold, over into that place that stymied all the thrashings
of her elegantly violent soul. she was a satellite–she sat in the middle of the room
surrounded by glass walls and, when appropriate, pulled out clots of her blood
and tossed them into the wastebasket. no one saw her. but they watched her all
the time.

scatter

this is how we change–nautilus chamber, spokes of a wheel
some passion i don’t speak about. i see the growth curl, i see
it siphoning water and glory, i see its breath as it breaks through
the gutter and reaches towards the sky–my waist expands rotted
wood and i feel tendrils of myself steadying, then sinking, then
sinking. peat-moss fingers on me–i kiss them as i would the muzzle
of my lover’s gun and dose myself just to be sure–hazy smoke-filled
thought these days leaves me nostalgic for the past and angry about
what happened then, all those wrongs adding, multiplying, staggering
the numbers–just when i think i will tear you key from key you hit
depressed ivory notes and i can feel the terror in them, the quiet
hatred and the laughing crow and the white egret and the great
blue heron all become one sinuous figure in my mind, a summation
of all the greatest parts of my life–a raindrop staining a window that
you turn from when you hear someone call your name down a hall
in a house that is torn bit by ragged bit from my memory, until all
the edges are worn–i remember who has died and who has remained
and wonder who is the better for it. the sunglint is too much–it blinds
me with its radiant angle, its disastrous glare in the rearview of my
youth, and the sparksun becomes a single point of light–i press it
into your hand, then scatter.

the songs of not-knowing

returning is not an option. the tide has gone out
and taken all the sea glass that i might draw across
my wrists again and again, singing the song of
not-knowing, the worst of all fears.

the dye runs off my tongue and stains your skin
you look towards the rain-washed window
and i instinctively turn my head,
gazing back at myself, naked as a fresh page

that which will survive, only time can see
that seer indifferent to all the little catastrophes
that make up my heartbeats, my breath–
even the trees will eventually shake me loose.

return to earth

i have come to this place because i am
no longer the one i once was,
because it is only in dream-space that we
might reveal ourselves and the stars
would not rage in jealousy.

this is where i tell the truth
for the first time in my life.

i was raised by the earth
cast out by the earth
and now am dead
wandering the earth
gathering silt and loam
the crushed abalone
and the green stems
that grow in the furrows
that run along the highway

all thumbs point north–
no, all thumbs point to the sky
and i am sun-blind and weary
with a dessicated dream under my arm.

we were all asymmetrical desire
the earth remembers me not
and i have come to the city
to revoke the rights of those
who haunt me
to return again to the tide
of human flesh
to bring you my brackish words,
so that you, too, might remember
who you tried so hard to be.

envy (for my mother)

she puts a needle-sharp word to my tendon
and my wrist twitches. a few carefully aimed
stabs and i am moving not of my own accord.
she knows how to throw the acid of guilt over
my musculature to make me do what she wants,
how to twist bone just to the point of snapping
how to make me smile and nod, smile and nod
how, at this point, i yearn for strings,
just because it wouldn’t be so painful.

intravenously yours, me.

all i want is your love dripping into me like an iv–
people drive by my window, boxed into their little
cars, their big cars, worrying about the origins of
the universe, and hoping that dunkin donuts will
have that cheese bagel twist they want. these days
i think about all of the people i have loved and how
presumptuous it is of me to think i know love, love
in a closed fist, love in a bandage. some damage
the hospital can’t treat. the bonesetter simply looks
at me and sighs, the surgeon puts his gloves on.
even my veins shy away from your love. they get
out the saw, let the acid tabs dissolve. here it comes.

this one’s for the books

the interstate makes no promises. but this is new haven, and this is providence, and this is boston, and this is love. i wake up too early in the mornings in new jersey, an empty space at my back. shivering in the summer though my small windowless room beneath the stairs is quiet and cool. a profusion of dying flowers in the dining room. lilies are for death, my mother had said. then lilies are for all of life, i thought. the clockhand is a spindle i prick my finger on. come on, i’m waiting.

flinch

all i want is to meet the sea as an equal.
when the words don’t come, it’s time to
go hold my head under the water in the
bathtub, break another heart. such things
these days are locusts in my hair. i’ve
learned to flinch at the setting of the sun,
wondering if what they said about me
was true after all. i read my diagnosis again
and again. intense stormy interpersonal
relationships. can’t keep a friend to save
her life. often dates the people who sew
up her wounds. i put the paper down and
blot at my wrist. this kind of seepage was
meant for lovers less than 250 miles apart.
there is no truth other than what lies in my heart.

wintering

where were you when the light was gone,
after it had dropped like a stone below
the horizon of my body, that vanishing point
of myself where i was alone. a dip of tonal static
and you might hear my torn voice scratching
at the walls, don’t look at me, my face like
a broken windshield. you wintered in the eaves
of my heart but the spring drove you in search
of more hospitable dwellings. do not under-
estimate the malice of a picket fence when
it pierces your skin, where i fell with scabs
on my back and a dark twist of hair lamenting
its own length as you plucked ingots of tears
from my eyes, beautiful and worthless.

meditations in panama

i sit with my back straight out of habit
not learned from school, which didn’t
teach me much except how to fit an
entire sonnet on the toe of my converse
sneaker in sharpie, how to feint & dodge
and faint & be dislodged to finally settle
in my own ire. my knees have been giving
out on me lately, locking like a canal where
i could see myself rise and set in the same
day over and over again, an unearthly clock-
work bound by laws of science which
fascinated the both of us, but we could
spend our lives theorizing about quantum
existence and it wouldn’t really change
anything, not the way we fight or make
love or read about new developments in
technology, which still hasn’t gotten
anything right about love, and probably
never will.

unspeakable poems, iii.

i read the same forty books over and over

you didn’t understand how i could get so mired
in words, a fossilized sentence, an endgame
to a paragraph, complete unto itself.

sometimes i laughed and spit out a used word
used wrong, the same way i twist in my perdition,
all alone.

what i wanted were coals to walk on,
the edge of a pier to stand on,
empty air to try and reach across
to touch your face

some way to show you
how much i loved you

but

of baby’s breath, i want only the flower

unspeakable poems, ii.

i might have woken up
detached myself from you
like a shadow leaving an object
detached myself from feeling
and remembering what feeling
felt like

the rationale lacking

some secret voice inside me
reminding me

intense, stormy interpersonal relationships

my hips are not meant children
children crawling out of them
children tied to them
children clinging to them
staring up with wide eyes
staring up with nightmares in their eyes
the reflection of their mother in their eyes

i knew this wouldn’t work. you can’t get away
with having your point-five kids because someone
will eventually coming looking for the other half
and they’ll call DYFS when they find the mess

and what of you?
with a kiss, i could send you over the cusp
a whisper of breath to send you over the edge

there would be no coming back, you say.

we can never go back.

unspeakable poems, i.

we were feathers fused to bone

vaguery you had called poetry

it is these vague words that save me

were i to go insane
would i write more
would i think more
in the space between
the wax of my memory
and the heat of inquiry

did it really happen that way?

two people in a room.
an event occurs:
i slash at the air
and your wrists start to bleed
i slash at myself
and you hold me closer

let me speak plainly:
were it only for a vast stretch of bed
that needed to be filled by my body
besides yours,
i could have stayed forever to fill that space
that emptiness inside each of us
(respectively, of course).

i wake early
you draw me to you
i am drawn
stark stick figure

filtered pre-dawn
the moon is a cheshire smile
and i am unmade.

one truth: a fragment

if i am able to tell one truth about myself it is this:
i never felt more complete than when i was completing
you, never wanted anything more than to see joy
suffuse your being with its luminous truth. these pale
words tell only the story of a moon that drifts beneath
your skin, milky radiance. what do i know. i am a bumbling
idiot, skin like a crocodile and lips bee-stung and rouged