Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I will always be in love with you
in a way.
But I  am no longer in love with you
in every way.

Monday, September 24, 2012


If you want to be heard,
listen to the radio.
If you want to be understood,
study philosophy.
If you're lonely, open a novel
and read about an isolated soul.
You can never see your face
unless you hold it up to a mirror.


You can't prove that love exists,
only that it doesn't.

That's why you pry your long, cold fingers
into every crack in my skin.
That's why you wait with terror-fueled patience
as long as it takes to craft your traps.

It's because, until I fail to love you,
love might be real.
It's because, as soon as you break me,
you'll know for sure that love is a lie.

Then you'll be safe,
won't you?

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Why would you teach me
that it's wrong to tell a lie
and also teach me
that it's wrong to tell the truth?
All that means is I can't speak.

Speaking to Iolanta of the Light

Once I referred to myself as "filthy",
and she said, "Why do you say things like that about yourself?"
like I'm not filthy,
like I said it in pursuit of some goal
other than descriptive accuracy.
And I just stared at her.
"Don't you think you're filthy, too?" I wanted to ask,
but then I realized:
she doesn't even know what that means.
So I just stared at her,
and instead I asked, "Who are you?"

Make Sure

Many times in my childhood, my mother said to me,
"Just make sure you never do that to someone".

If someone used me and belittled me? No need to stop being her friend,
just make sure I never do that to her.
If someone hit me and raped me? No need to stop dating him,
just make sure I never do that to him.
If people believed untruths about me? No need to correct them,
just go on pretending I haven't noticed.
Secrets are all we have to protect us, you know.
And wouldn't it be a tragedy if the messy, ugly truth were known?
(How messy, how ugly I am.)
Because you know I'm just waiting to use people,
laugh at them, abandon and betray them,
lie to them, belittle them, dismantle their freedom.
I'm just like that, bad like that, and it's revolting
--so I'd better keep it a secret. No need to burden anyone else with Me.
Just keep constantly telling myself, "Make sure you never do that"
and "Make sure you never do that" and don't ever act, just
never do anything to save yourself. You're not worth the effort.
Maybe if I say it to myself, over and over,
I can keep all the bad from coming out.

And I always thought I would say the same thing
to my daughter when I had one. But now
I'm not going to have any children, because
I'm never going to do that to someone.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


I don't have enough
to tally up
all the things that have been stolen--
not on my fingers,
not on my toes,
not in the hairs of my head.

And you can't give them back,
and I'll never see them again,
and I'm not allowed
to search for them,
not even in the dark places
or the quiet places.

You can't help it,
and you don't know any better,
and I, too, am a thief--
but I can't stop wanting to destroy
the hand that tore out
my spine through my lungs.

Cute Together

People are always saying
that we're really cute together
or asking how long we've been together
and saying, "You must be so glad that you two--"
or, "I bet it's nice that he's--"

They send us cards on our anniversary,
congratulatory messages.
They're so proud of our marriage,
always reminding me of how good a choice I made
when I gave in and said yes.

I don't have to agree or disagree,
because they don't give me a chance;
they just barrel on through their happy assumptions,
and all I have to do is keep from
exploding all over the place,

keep from tearing their blind eyes
out of their stupid faces,
ripping the ears that they've shut to me
off the sides of their stupid heads,
and screaming, "THIS RELATIONSHIP IS A LIE".


I want her,
but I can't invite her here,
no matter how much I want to see her,
knowing what her life would be--
days spent wondering what's wrong with me,
nights spent knowing there must be something wrong with her--
not enough, never enough moments of relief
to tip the balance.
Though compassion is futile any way you reckon,
my heart won't allow me
to bring her into this hopeless world.
I know now what I have to do,
so if you can't listen to my reasons,
don't ask to hear them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hyun Ki Joon

I did not believe
Fate had eyes that looked at me.
But now I believe:
I fell in love with someone
we all know I shouldn't have.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hyun Sang Hee

For three years I have done penance
for sinning against my brother.
What sin stains the soul so deeply?
Only love.
And since I learned the source of my error--
the failure of Reason, the wet sponge of feelings--
I have walked too carefully in my carefully bought shoes.
But I came to the end of the sidewalk.
All that is left to walk across is empty, white canvas.
Even clean shoes would leave marks.
But I and my feet will smudge it blacker than cavities,
for in all my years, I have not gained
the strength to overcome love.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I remember once--
I was about nine years old--
when it was snowing,
and beneath the snow lay ice,
permeating Earth.
Already I knew
the names of many demons,
but I did not know
what it meant to be frozen:
I'd never melted;
there was no comparison.
I had learned to breathe
beneath mountains of oceans,
learned to push through them--
they were so heavy on me.
And the snow fell down,
lighter, softer than water.
I took off my shoes,
left my coat on the hanger,
bared my arms and head,
walked out of my father's house.
I tested the snow,
felt with the palms of my feet.
I was astonished
because it felt like nothing:
the snow and my feet
were consubstantial, like God.
That's when I lay down
and let the snow wrap me up,
swallow my body
like a god or a mother
or a cannibal,
and I felt for the first time
what it is to be
inside another person,
consumed by something,
what it feels like to belong,
what it is to share.
The snow accepted it all,
leeched it out of me,
took my life and gave me peace,
and it didn't hurt.
I thought about my own death,
and I decided
that this is how it should be:
dignified, restful,
unified oblivion.
There began to be
prickling pain through the numbness;
I wanted to feel,
so I lay and felt it grow.
And after a while,
I felt empty, felt better.
I got to my feet.
I went back inside the house
with my books and paints,
pleased, for the cold still lingered
in my frozen hands,
made clumsy by lack of blood.
Neither my mother
nor father knew I returned
or left or was gone.
But I should not have felt these
true things, old things, and
I ask the consubstantial:

Where was my mother
while the blood left my body?
Where was my father
when my death brought me comfort?
Why did they not fight
the force that made me brittle
and hardened me against touch?


I wonder sometimes when I look at people
whether they know
or they don't know.
They must know--they must see--
because even when I hide it, it's written
on my forehead and the backs of my hands;
it comes out when I speak,
a steady undercurrent beneath my words.
You have eyes, you have ears,
you have a heart and a butterfly-filled stomach,
so you KNOW, you MUST know

but you can't know because if you did know
the knowledge of it would overcome you
and you'd stare at nothing, lose time,
lose your breath with the pain of not
being able to cry, and I can see you,
I can see that you go on living
and so there is no possibility
that you know.


I don't want to have feelings anymore;
they make me sad,
and even though I know that I'm strong now,
that they'll go away if I wait,
it's tiresome to sit here and wait for them to pass,
troublesome to go around afterwards
and clean up, saying,
"Did I hurt you?" and "I'm sorry I was weird" to everyone.
Makes me wanna hide when I'm like this--
crawl under a table, behind the drapes,
bury my head.
If I close my eyes, do I become
It's just that I ache to burrow my nose in
against a shoulder,
but I'm like a vacuum; I don't stop
until I've taken everything--
so I bite my pillow and hold it all inside my eyes.


I imagine that you taste
like salt and water;
I want to put my hands on you
and hear your open sounds.
Don't you want to be filled,
want to be named?
Because I have so much to give you.

it is you whom I worship
as the gods my parents spoke of
fade until their blurred outlines
match their indifference.
At every moment--
when I am with others,
I ignore their speech
to meditate on your face;
when I am alone,
I stretch my hands out,

Where are you?
Did you die
when I was reborn?
Or are you coming,
coming to balance the tilting easel,
to be just as empty as I am full?

The shaft of the arrow is not of gold
nor of silver,
but of the laurel tree,
the point dipped not in poison
but in ambrosia,
and I fear that I
have wounded myself
with my own bow.


Down at the bottom,
you break yourself when you hit.
When you breathe again,
you find out you've stopped falling,
and you cry with gratefulness.

Once She Asked Me a Question

what do you want she said
and i said i want you to tell me what i want
and she said no what do you want to do
and i said what i want is for you to tell me what to do
and she said you don't understand
i'm asking what you want
and i said i want what you want
and she said stop being like this if
you're not going to tell me then
i don't know what to do with you
look i'm going out of my way to show you a good time and
you don't have to pretend to be unselfish
and i said i thought i did tell you what i want but
never mind it doesn't matter

I Was Surprised but I Should Always Have Known Always

I love your blue and
red and yellow
your white
and your black, confident outlines.

I love your simplicity the way
there is no smoke in your
face the way
you see you can see
see see see

I love the day we spoke
you love ice cream and it's
so normal so supposed-to
you are clean nothing but clean

I love the day you said to me look
showed me how to see my heart
I thought it was made of ice but it
never was never has been not even
for a moment no I have always been


She pushes; I want her to push,
and I squeeze my eyes shut--
no, I relax my forehead--
and I think in my head (not my heart),
Yield, yield, yield.

Her hands, the hands of a stranger,
but my face is hidden where no one can see,
and I am safe, very safe, if I can keep quiet,
and I can keep quiet; it hurts but so
does everything.

I accept this pain; it is nothing
I accept this pressure; I yield
--that is, I try to yield but even as I
tell myself to yield I can feel myself
tense, tense like I'm fighting it, and I don't want
to fight it but I fight it.

I know--or I fear I know--
what she'll have to do before my body
will allow her to mold it.
She'll have to break me,
push so hard as I push so hard back
until I can no longer continue,
and I crack and crumble like I did that day
I swore I'd give up fighting

and I don't want to break; it's so
but my body won't stop pushing,
won't yield to her hands,
won't yield to the commands of its own mind,
can't let me be free.


Reading love stories
makes me see that I'm lonely.
I can't stop reading,
driving that fact in and out,
an oil well, one of thousands.