may 2009

you know you’re right

the tips of my fingers press
unscripted lines into your cheek
as you glance off to the side,
and i move my hands to your eyes
to try and hold your gaze.

you are pensive:
i sense in the set of your jaw
that there’s something on your mind now and i want to worry,
want to sculpt mountains from the blankets swathing our knees–
but it doesn’t matter because now i’ve caught your face in my palms
and as you come closer to kiss me, all i can think is that
the music you’re drumming on my thigh is rather beautiful,
and wonder how long it would take to compose lyrics for it.

i should get on that eventually.
i will, i promise– but first,
just give me one more kiss.


oh, i forgot to be

if you promise,
i’ll never tell about the time you pushed too hard
and i fell facefirst into this maelstrom of bullshit and backstabbed nonvictims
(because face it, stockholm syndrome begins before the plot is fully hatched).

i’ll never say “you told me so.”


my posture is utter shit, and i worried that you were going to notice.
i never seem to smile when other people can see;
my brow creases into folds
and the stacked chain of my vertebrae bows like inverted scorpion tails beneath the weight of it all:
hopes and dreams and suppressed screams,
the occasional laugh.
i carry every whisper you engraved into my collarbone
and the weight of wanting you on my shoulders.

if you promise,
i won’t remind you that it was you who said it first,
and that i never pushed you away half as hard as you pulled.


i’ll make a deal with you.
if you promise
i won’t speak anymore at all.
i know how much the sound of my voice rankles you–
i know you’ll only answer my questions if i stop asking.

if you promise,

i’ll keep my cries to myself.
i’ll only feel where you can’t see or sense it (but you know all of me and that is not possible).


if you promise to love me i’ll never speak again.

vino dei fratelli: moscato d’asti


i drank wine with my mother today.
we danced around this apartment we don’t own
and my bare feet tapped misshapen prints into the white carpet
as i swirled in a dress i picked myself to please us both.
and i watched myself in exactly seventeen years,
three months and nineteen days, heavy-lidded from far more than sleep–
i thought: this is me, and this is my mother.

i drank wine,
and its sweet slight burn traveled slow across the expanse of my tongue
toward a throat still choked with every syllable i never uttered in your ear.
it was delicious,

but not enough to burn the flavor of your kiss from my mouth.

i drank wine with my mother today.
that should mean that i am sophisticated and classy and quite mature enough to handle what we were,
but didn’t anyone tell you?
the greatest pleasures of alcohol reside in its being forbidden to us children.
i am an infant with wine in my bottle.
you saw straight through the plastic to my suckling mouth and all the neophyte words traipsing on tiptoe from taste bud to wakened taste bud, tapdancing cleverly between my teeth.

she is more of an adult than i will ever be,
and i was the last one to realize it.

all the world’s running a race,
a marathon–
and everyone is passing me up.

i said that once.


it’s still the truth.

the slow warmth of muscato travels beneath my skin like an errant blush;
i am an adolescent in your shadow tripping on the looks you throw at me over your shoulder. the ice melting from it is causing me to slip.


i drank wine with my mother today,
in a red, white and blue plaid spaghetti strap dress that crosses over my breasts– but doesn’t cover them enough to hide the fact that my breath still accelerates at the sound of your name.
i would have been afraid she could see what i was holding between them,
but her glass was empty before mine and her smile had grown sublime.

i wonder what muscato tastes like on skin,
but the only person left to find out now is her, and she doesn’t drink.


come to think of it, neither do you.

A. 414: desasosiego

this bedroom is frost compared to the warm dew i imagine on your windowsill.
i wanted to wake up tangled somewhere among your ribs,
perhaps caught neatly inside the only cage strong enough to contain my hurricane:
that of matriculated osteoblasts clustered mass upon seething mass
and hardened like my expression into something strong and silent and deceptively fragile: bone.

let me fold myself into the minute spaces between your organs and the bars.
i will seep quiet and careful into pockets of air and venal walls
and the cracks where light does not show,
clot like blood on your arterial walls– but don’t worry, your heart will not attack,
and the only arrest will be that which puts me in this prison.

i am a criminal of the highest order: i dare to be emotional–
i dare to feel for you.

lock me up and swallow the key.


purple satin is too rich for me.
i wrap myself in this mantle of many names and i swear it feels just like your skin
so that i step steaming and warm (fresh, brown and scalding like bread from my mother’s ancestral oven) into my bedroom
and caress myself with whispering fibers that tell me your name,
and echo the sound of your moans from my dreams;
i could almost conjure your presence beside me.
this longing is strong enough for that.

i gave birth to a stillborn love for you
and now i lay mired in red-black afterbirth,
becoming swallowed by my own placenta
until i am choking and fetal inside you.
i am a murderer.

lock me up and swallow the key.

purple satin is too rich for me.
this mantle makes memory a thing of the future
and i am suspended in the present, complacent:
a willing prisoner entombed between your fourth and fifth ribs.
your heart is beating beneath my shoulder blades
and i can’t tell whose pulse is pounding in my throat–
whether i have swallowed your essence,
or become it.


i am a criminal.
purple satin is too rich for me.
lock me up

and swallow me.


i. sunlight is no alarm and all annoyance clock on summer days when the only thing separating dusk and dawn is the moon peeking shyly over his shoulder as he whispers for permission to stand up straight at long last, done with his nap.

i am tired of sunny days. i want it to rain and rain until water sluicing down the glass brings me back to the time when i could feel without it cutting back into my skin as i pushed it outward.

books are not oceans to sink into and i should stop trying. i’m not as great a swimmer as i’d like to think and anyway this is less like the brutal atlantic than i’d like. i am no virginia woolf, and you are not a pile of stones.
i’m too dramatic to go down that quietly, anyway.


i spread my hair around me on my pillow at night and let the straps of my nightgown slip down my shoulders to prove that i can be sexy, but i know the nightgown only slips because it’s finally too large for me and my hair is too frizzy to be sirenlike. it makes acne on my face in the morning and i laugh as i push my fingers into the tiny bumps; they make me feel like the teenager it’s (not) too late for me to be.
i can still be the ugly duckling, can’t i?
but that duckling was never in love and only my fingers are webbed. this dreaming seems hopeless.

books are not oceans to drown in.
my legs are short but they’re strong enough to kick upward from the sandy floors of this loneliness i carry in my chest; it’s only that i am too lazy and woven pages stamped with someone else’s stories are easier to dive into when the pressure of alone compresses me into origami shapes to blow quietly across the waters of my mind. i make no sound as i tumble inside my own head,


but i am screaming all the same.


books are not oceans to fling oneself into.


each heartbreak sends me straight to barnes & noble wielding my rectangular plastic swords named Member and Debit, pillaging wooden caves for more and more of these novel drugs.

i roll them up and snort romances; i smoke adventures and shoot up psychological thrillers.

the highs only last until the last page but as long as there’s another book it’s all good.

this has to stop.


books are windows to other worlds,


but they were not intended to be permanent portals.
reality must intrude eventually.


books are not oceans and i am slowly learning that one way or another it’s eventually going to be my turn to swim to the surface.

sunlight on my sheets means reality penetrating the fevered dreamy haze,
and it will take all of my strength to open my eyes and kick my way to the air–


but i have enough.


mere inhalation
does little to combat the ache of longing;

a drowning man can do little with a glass of water but understand the truth of irony,
and only after one has emptied both lungs does the price of breath become apparent:

it is when, at the end of each day,
one head alights
on two pillows
that the meaning of “alone” is as clear–
as well-honed, as gleaming as bright blades serrating soft whispers in the dark,

and prayers becomes meaningless beside empty spaces shaped like no one
in a bed meant for two

with the splinters in my hair

my son chews erasers like suckers,
absentmindedly nibbling his pencil
as he reads another dime store novel
that costs ten times that much at barnes and noble.

he’s supposed to be writing a paper for biology,
and his notebook is opened to a page full of notes
in the same tiny script as his father–
but when i lean close,
the pages are crowded with whispered confessions of teenage love,
stricken through with graphite lines.