Wednesday, October 30, 2013

To Rachael

In my head, your voice
is undercut by the tenor line of an old Lutheran hymn,
and dreams that weren't of you
haunt the corners of my mind, blurred by indifferent memory.
Each time I ask, your voice
answers, so sticky I want to lick it,
and I imagine you in the shape of a paper doll,
as the curve of a porcelain cheek,
nothing but cheap nylon lace and ringlets,
and there is no thanking you, and I know
that I am an inconvenience, and I want
to stop asking, but I need
your answers.

Friday, October 18, 2013

To you who are the chirp in my jacket pocket

I felt loved

when I realized how fiercely you protect me
with little words, little ways of manipulating a conversation
to your ends

I was submersed in hot water; I felt myself
cooking, my meat turning from red to gray.
Love drove through my stomach,
a thick, wooden spear
that did not splinter and stayed
there, in me, heavy
and pleasant, enough
to anchor me so I am no longer pulled off course.

Gratefulness welled up in me,
rose in my throat and burst out;
my head thrown back, I open my eyes to the sky,
and my mouth is pushed wide open, jaw aching,
and it pours out, golden, pours up,
and when it is exhausted, I remember your words
and it wells up again,
throws itself out of me so hard my muscles jerk

I want to
lay on you all this light,
shining like yellow hair, like new money;
to cover you with it,
a shield to warm you

I want to cut open my skin and show you
the spear in my belly,
the glistening of the organs around it,
my liver, my gallbladder, my ovaries--
see how clean they are
when my skin is cut open,
when they touch the light and the air.

I want
to give and give and be empty
and be filled and empty
myself again.
I want to hold myself
up for hours and hours until
my arms give out
But what good would that do you?

It isn't beautiful,
this kind of overwhelming response,
knee-jerk, uncontrollable,
breath-crushingly intense,
and it's so obvious that I
am missing something, that I have not
had enough of Love

and that's--
that's a lot to lay on top of you,
to punish you with when all you did
was love me

so I don't know whether to hope that I
can keep it to myself
or to hope that you
would like me to love you, too

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


October is half-over--
I run my fingertips over the back of my paper-dry hand.
Dusk, like an ever-threatening rainstorm,
encroaches on the edges of the day.

And I can smell, far-off from me,
the charcoal fires
and the girlish squeezes on the bleachers;
sweaters with too-long sleeves fall
like phantoms over my arms,
and I remember

nights with crisp branches and leaves,
the bonfires, the metal scraping
beneath the shoes that let me taste invincibility,
mouth open, waiting,
an unplotted course,
the clock that struck at midnight, and forbidden kisses
in the bare-stripped cornfield beneath the low, low moon:

eagerness and too much energy,
a certainty that the future would be something
and be something to be proud of.

I no longer have a girlfriend to cling to;
there is no boy with carefully sculpted hair
and wounded, liquid eyes.
Still, I would go and watch the game,
look at the girls in their sweaters,
but there are no tickets to sell to me,
no cars I can ride in,
and the taste of beer is even more unpleasant
when I drink alone.

I should have taken more
forbidden kisses; I should have
made my bed every night beneath
the open sky; I should have
clung tighter to her sleeve--

but I did not realize
that there are twelve months in the year,
and only one of them is

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


Astraea, Astraea,
warm but never scorching,
like the heaviness of the winter sun through the window when my head spins with alcohol--
how many people live and die
and never feel engulfed by love?

To Astraea

I don't understand
how the universe doesn't
grind to a dead halt
under the measureless weight
of its suffering.
Could there be a counterweight?
And it is just inertia?


I wonder what other people mean when they talk about happiness.
   Do they all mean the same thing?

I don't understand how a feeling could be calm but not sad, or self-empowering but not angry.
Is it what you feel when all the other feelings go away, a nothingness that only exists in absence?
   Or is it a feeling of its own?
Is it like excitement (but without shame)?
   Is it like being loved (but without resignation)?
Is it constructable like self-confidence or involuntary like grief?
What's so great about it?
   Why do people want it so badly?

All I know is:
   there might be people,
   and these people might have happiness,
   and even though they probably can't understand me and I probably can't understand them,
   I think possibly
   that that's a very beautiful thing.