Poetry

A Memory from May of Ninety-Degree Heat

Of you and me

flipping mixtapes
in your mini cooper
(i never asked what you thought
of the tape i made you)

 

Of walking down to the lake,

wishing to take your hand in mine
quietly (i didn’t)
you lead: I think this is the spot…
I follow, parting budding green
branches until we reach a stony
shore (i knew i’d never hold
your hand on that shore)

 

Of rippling skips and watching you

wade in barefoot (i stood ashore, alone, afraid)
I dig for the perfect instrument:
flat, smooth, a saucer of a stone.

 

Of winding up like an old-time submarine pitcher

then swish, plash, plop—
(my heart into stomach acid)

 

I got over you. I can’t move backwards.

the trees
turn green wax
leak into the
clear lake
birds crash
like kamikazes
our stones shift
my feet so
I clutch your
hands but
you cry out:
you’re too late

Self-Portrait as Newton’s Cradle

 

kinetic spasm                                 eye twitch, adjacent bodies

graze, something rests anxious                 on taste buds

kiss me                                             heavy without hesitating

hands roam, gliding                                    over talc skin

is this okay                                       as elastic surrenders breath in

it’s pulse on pulse, soft exhale                                     yes

shh relax                                           chests tremble swaddled muscle

aches oneness, press fluttering                valves on lips

flexing                                                together colliding halves

two complete, see it’s easy                                 to touch

 

                                         I Ache (serrated edges)

3 am and i ‘ m coming down. m y naked feet cold on bathroom tiles. arm hairs perk alert. i ’ m shivering and i won’t stop. 3 am just m e hunched over bathroom tiles gripping m y skull. last week i was given a new knife (branded C K on the handle) as a gift for being a groomsman in m y sister’s wedding. i cradle m y crying initials. then they’re scratching at m y hand. it wants. i know it’s want. i cradle it because it cries but i can’t hear over the sound of the smiths, silence, everyone asleep but m e (i ‘ d like sleep, but there’s more night yet). it shuts up when it digs in m e, digs out the part of m e i lose to bathroom tiles. i ‘ m leaking onto bathroom tiles. a piece of m e i need to lose. i yawn for my loss. eyes up, looking down, i ‘ m on tiles. i look so pretty outside m y self. such color, so pretty—the things i am when i ‘ m not trapped within. m y naked feet in the splash zone. m y self, m y mess to rinse away at 3 am

if this is a cri       for help, please hang-up now.

sis dial 18002738255—

he might be Grammy worthy

but Logic isn’t right

 

i don’t ♪feel out of my mind♪

i can’t get out of my mind

 

what constitutes a crisis

 

“suicidal gesture” seems like semantics

but i saw how that girl died in 13 reasons

why would anyone use a razor blade that way

 

last i loved said get out

of your mind, Connor

but in mine it’s crowded music festivals sweat stuck

 

synapse kick drums dry heave serotonin

upchuck poisons into overflowing toilet

stagger to sink hydration

 

wobble up to face

what constitutes crisis, i asked the jester

in the mirror, he reminded me of Heath,

 

Hemingway, no brains Cobain,

his eyes jingled off-key, told me

i’m just suicidal jesture, pouting

 

not quite shotgun mouthed

but still quite the crisis

at risk, but still kicking despite it

 

Fighter’s Block

Girl #1:

Eleventh grade, you fall in love with the same girl as two other classmates.

One classmate that loves her punches another who loves her in the nose.

And the former kid breaks the other’s nose,

But the latter kid’s nose breaks the former kid’s hand.

The broken nose kid asks you,

Terrified, if you love her too.

I don’t. We’re just f-f-friends. And half of this is true.

 

And you.

All quiet and mushy, pretending

Tender words can conquer fists,

Typing texts, declaring love:

You’re special

You’re beautiful

You’re better

Than them.

You mean you’ll love her

Better than broken nose kid and broken fist kid can.

What you mean: please l-l-love me instead.

But she doesn’t. Words can’t fight for you. She won’t love
The kid who doesn’t fight.
Until she does, who knows why
You bite your lip
Breathe deep
Kiss her against the basement wall
At some shitty christmas party,
When she tells you there’s an open bed upstairs,
That you should come with her
And love each other now,
You lie and say
I’m too t-t-tired. I’m too drunnnk to love you now.
Girl #2:

Freshman year,

The girl across the hall

Stops by your dorm

To bring you pizza, or was it french toast?

When she invites you over for jello shots

You feel like running.

But she’s beautiful,

Kind, and you don’t know

Why you’re awkward,

Refuse to fight.

So you tell her, I u-u-usually go home on weekends.

 

Friend:

Some months later, over house party bass,

Your friend,

Well, kind of your friend,

Jokes that you never talk about girls

Or how much they want to fuck you

Or how much you want to fuck them.

He jokes with you, calls you a fag,

Laughs at your straight face,

Tells you

You’re less fun when you’re not drunk.

 

Girl #3:

Concert, summer after sophomore year.

Not the one where she

Threw up on herself and ended up in emergency care,

The concert where she wore overalls, back when

She had blonde hair she wore in two braids.

When she danced with you

Your fingers locked each other in

And before she left,

She kissed you, said goodnight and

Left you.

 

Subject:

From fingers entwined to fingers

Locked on iron barbells

Heady hormonal trances to breath

Control, reps, gain

Seventeen pounds, 157 pounds all

Because the girl you loooved in 8th grade told you

She was most attracted to guys with abs, biceps.

Now you wonder the damage

You’re capable of, what might happen if you

Swing back. But you don’t/can’t/won’t

You please stop crying because the corners of your eyes keep drying out and the skin keeps Dying

And it’s an awkward place to have to apply lotion to.

Please, please stop the spreading numbness in your chest

And heat that labors in your throat

From hyperventilating lungs.

Running, from fighting,

Even though sometimes a fight feels like all you need.

Someone to hurt.

Someone who could hurt you too.

 

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