I'm worried I'll run into you tonight. You're out there, on my side of this sparkling city trying to increase the chances of my impending relapse when I see you approaching in a manner that isn't meek, isn't wavering, but bold and squared-off with long strides. The way you're(more) set in your course makes me feel penetrable, like you could push right through unscathed by the tangle and tumble-wreck of toughened skin and heart-muscle, by the sharpness of silver zippers or the copper key around my neck. When you cross the river, traffic quiets in warning; the bridges are allies. I've been here longer than you, a necessary advantage when I have no other. Territory is my shield. I know the dark spaces you fear to tread and that's where I'll be, gone. (less)
After pulling from the parking lot and out into traffic, her mouth tasted like she'd been sucking on a silver coin. A sharp, dirty sensation came over her as she realized she'd said too much. The conversation went well, but something felt unattended to, like the back door left(more) open or a bike chained outside in the rain. Third dates were always awkward in their sexless script of sibling run-downs, coming-out stories, and edited ex-girlfriend lists. She didn't want to talk about her dead sister, familial rejection, or she-who-will-remain-unnamed. It was too early to order drinks and the vegan bakery didn't sell booze anyway. So it happened; it dribbled out of her mouth, the metallic tang everywhere. She never learned or cared about small talk. It was either tell-me-your-deepest-darkest-secrets-or-get-the-fuck-out, however, she preferred to be on the listening end, rather on the end that feels like the loser in strip poker. What was it about that person that made her reveal? She thought of this and many other things while waiting at the red light. (less)
"Oh!" I definitely heard it this time. My ears perked up like the dog's when the mailman comes by. It wasn't just the heating vent or something outside.
"Oh, fuck!" My neighbors like to have sex in the daytime. Three o'clock or so. It usually coincides with my(more) tedious, last few papers to grade, my back to the ancient drywall between us.
"Baby!" It usually sounds so vanilla but one time I swear she was thrusting to the rhythm of "I've been working on the railroad all the live-long day. . ." while singing along. It really freaked me out because of childhood, nursery rhymes, and slavery. I just can't comprehend it. They weren't even laughing.
"Holy fuck, Baby! Fuck!" The big finish. I wish I could enjoy it like I used to before the Railroad thing. (less)
"It isn't words," they say, "but actions that matter." Your actions, those I understand. The way you let me know you by choosing a puddle rather than the dry curb. How you carry your dog, nearly as big as you, when his joints hurt. The quickness in which you(more) dart for the center of the room when a favorite song comes on. This is what I see. Your words, however, say so much but I still hear nothing. (less)
Instead of burning this candle at both ends, you've broken it in half so the two flames will never meet. Maintaining compartments seems to be the only way to endure every facet of your love but what you say is separate, I know, is tethered by the same waxy(more) cord. When you sentence friendship and passion to opposite corners, neither reaches their full potential. I bring you a glass of water because I know you're thirsty but also because I know you'll look up at me with always hungry blue-green eyes. (less)
There are long-winded and inky love letters stashed between the mattress and box-spring. It seemed natural to wedge them there as I received them. A few arrived by mail. Others slipped under the door. I read each once, then absorbed the blank spaces and smudges while I slept, trying(more) to learn something, gain anything from their smokey taboo. Silence, then the muffled sound of flannel sheets against a prickly leg as I roll over. I feel nothing except for jealousy because she can share her depths on paper, unafraid of losing control. I can't quit because I never started. (less)
I see no exit strategy here. The walls are bare,
windows hermetically sealed. Hardwoods
gleaming with wax make escape a fantasy.
Furniture evaporates when memories
of you there, me tied to the chair with my own belt
come filtering in with the morning light.
(more) Dog hair and powered skin dusts empty spaces
where you first let me touch you.
My bed is gone so are the stairs
that curved one way, then the next
making my sweet head burn and my boots clumsy.
Sounds of our voices are ghosts I've created,
keeping me company until something comes undone.
The vintage 1920s building I live in has an old elevator shaft that I can access through a rather large window above the toilet in the bathroom. The chasm is narrow and eerily painted a dirty, dried blood color. I call it the dungeon because there's a drain at(more) the bottom and every time I peer down, I imagine something chained there writhing in its own mess. This is usually the highlight of the tour when I have someone over, which is seldom, because it seems like the only place to hang out is in my bed--and that's by invitation only. I'm not sure if I use the dungeon to seduce people with a fleeting thought of bondage, or if I use it to distract from the awkwardness of a small space. Sometimes I think confidence is self-consciousness; other times, they feel like remote islands that only used to push up against each other's soft, sandy beaches, a long time ago. Does self-awareness make me a go-getter? Or do I hide in plain sight, making my demands? The answers change from day to day, and even more often. Last time I had someone over, I can't say what I was thinking. I was only feeling: a point where this internal debate doesn't exist. There's only hard and soft, push and pull. In my last breath, I'm sure I'll favor moments spent feeling instead of thinking, but that's hard to remember for now. (less)
I've been sleeping tight for a year because after shedding my clothes, I slip between two generic Tylenol PM's. It's reassuring to know that sleep will come on time, just the way I've planned, night after night. The side-effects include drowsy yet violent twitching that only jacking-off can cure,(more) unquenchable thirst, and waking unsure of where I am: east or west coast. It happened again this morning. Before I opened my eyes, I saw the peeling, colonial green moulding of my childhood bedroom. My dead sister picked that color. Our father's house. Some time passed as I absorbed it. Then the alarm went off and I was back in my studio suddenly grieving for them both. Water. No tears, just work in an hour. (less)
Last night I was happy because I had a good piece of hair wound around two fingers like a spool of the best lamb's wool, only softer. I couldn't see who it belonged to, blonde or black, but guessed it was a combination. Asleep on the floor means so(more) much more when there's a perfectly good bed nearby. (less)
I'm a lake.
This thought is my only consolation, late
at night when the struggle to sleep
invokes the panic that there's a leak
somewhere, vulnerabilities soaking
into unknown dry land. I'm not a river
(more) without beginning or end, tributaries instead.
I'm a lake,
self-contained with soft sandy borders
protecting me from spilling over
onto bedsheets that are unfamiliar.
When this body of water is my body
I can say stay away, let me go
stay on your side of this bed. (less)
"Will work for food," now there's a classic, the meaning gone numb in the minds of the passersby. The competition is so fierce in Portland, the street kids and genuine homeless turn to more charming tag lines in order to make a connection. "Will work for beer" riffs the(more) cliche with tragic humor and/or honesty. Anything that involves "my children" or "seven months pregnant" is golden. Their cardboard communique must be working along with the warm temperatures because these people do not resemble the cracked faces and rumply protrusions of New Yorkers sprawled in the narrow thresholds of nicotine-ash brownstones. There are no signs here. The only comfortability is the state of being un-thawed. There was a man with bare feet last night amongst a crowd of interfaith mourners watching lanterns float, unmoved by the wind at Pier 40. Their black bottoms were visible because he was reclined, waving them in the air like a bored schoolgirl on the phone. He took one bite from the plate of naan and dahl that was passed to him and threw it aside, claiming his space by making a show of his particular whims. He was annoyed with the odd combination of weeping soccer moms, monks, and master harpists throwing their weight around in his living room. He flipped through a paperback, one no doubt he'd already read, to look interrupted. The evening dragged on. Finally, when the people picked up and filtered into their own neighborhoods, I looked back and saw the man pull his long, gray socks back on. (less)
Strange, I'm in New York today. A few blocks away
from where concentrated energies are focused.
I'll never write about that. Instead, I'm seeing you.
A coincidence. It hasn't been nine months
but it has been seven.
(more) A mythical baby could have nearly been processed.
When I saw you last I was still twenty-seven
and snow covered most places, missing always
the pacific northwest. I had no coat and you said:
"over there, look, is that a crocus?"
You're writing a song, one among many.
I'm a poet who reads between the lines
even on backs of cereal boxes. This is one way to know you.
I question the negative space
that seems so vast, what's been left out
in the time that's passed. We're a people concerned
with anniversaries and dates. Ten years, nine months
all seem so arbitrary unless something's attached.
Lengths of fire hose like heart muscle, umbilical cords, trajectories of thought. You said: "everything dies," speaking about the ruling force of impermanence.
I hear you and I hear more as we sit on the floor
of your loft leaning against opposite walls.
Tonight, we'll send paper lanterns down the Hudson
and under bridges, I'll think of home.
Today, I left Bread & Ink too soon after I arrived because I had apparently shown up at the wrong hour to quietly work on revisions. It must have been prime mommy-and-me time because as soon as I got cozy in my booth and ordered my first black coffee,(more) a horde of seemingly later-in-life-mothers entered pushing strollers--each with at least one faulty wheel, their sticky-fingered offspring wailing, punctuating each second with proof of their so-far brief existence, that at least I can relate to. The whole lot looked exhausted. Since I've been meditating lately as a personal experiment in exercising restraint, I stayed and drank my coffee although I couldn't write. Instead I spied on the curious frustrations between toddler and parent, between parent and underpaid barista. I thought about the invitation I just received to my high school reunion. My mother still sends me clippings from the local paper of people I used to know who are engaged, who have married. Regardless, most have kids of their own by now, their hideous gowns already yellowing in the back of their closets. I imagined the women in the cafe as my long lost classmates. We stare: alien species regarding each other with cocked, questioning eyebrows, yet akin because we are almost all female in the cafe and there's something about that bond that is never broken although I know nothing of their responsibility, of what it would feel like to create another human being by accident--a brief lapse in judgment paid for in seconds of pleasure and a lifetime of servitude for a creature that looks just like you, looking into your identical eyes and crying for you out of genuine need. No, I don’t know what that is like. (less)
I stopped writing to Addison several years ago but I reconsider my silence whenever I come across one of those tall, rickety lazy-susans stocked with 25 cent post cards that usually crowd the entrance to souvenir shops or outside of bodegas, the kind of cards we used to mail(more) back and forth between cities she was visiting and states where I was living at the time. I still have a stack somewhere of cheesy aerial views and skylines scribbled with her hard-pressed, boyish handwriting. There was something thrilling about receiving these public messages with “Missing You in Minneapolis!” cheerfully pre-fabbed in a cursive font beneath a pale baby in adult sunglasses on the front and “Next time I see you, I’m going to bend you over and slap your thighs until (can’t make out several words here) bright red and fucking (more incomprehensible penmanship) never (. . .) do you hear me? Kitten?” on the back for all the postal workers and whoever else to see. I’m sure there are still some out there, now with a wider audience, trying to find me after multiple consecutive moves around the country. I wrote back more conservatively, veiled flirtations and confessions of affection, knowing that she was traveling for work between galleries and art-spaces, staying in hotels, and I didn’t want to intrude on her otherwise private professional life. This was my natural role with her, creating vulnerable space to lay seamless ground for her wildness and sharpness to writhe upon and make a mark. I like to think we had an old-fashioned romance, writing to each other instead of phoning, separated by circumstance. Tragic in a way, on purpose, S&M for modern intellectuals maybe. (less)