he calls me nearly every night,
sighing and rambling in that rumbly
pre-man voice that wisps like fresh-washed wool
against my ears and heart and cunt
when he’s tired;
we fight about small things,
make jokes of major issues,
and i tease him because sometimes
he falls asleep midsentence, mid-ramble
i say, well goddamn i had no idea i was that boring
and he protests and goes silent
like he doesn’t realize i’m teasing
(i don’t think he does)
it took me weeks– until now, to be honest
to realize, as i lay on my bed reading while he slept
listening to his occasional fits of breath, his sleepy murmurs
and my own beating heart–
it took me up to this moment in time to realize
sometimes he calls just to hear my voice
and i am holding my breath because
the thought in my head at this epiphany is shaped a lot like
good god, he cares.
i thought of you today–
or to be more specific,
i eyed a bottle of chocolate vodka
in the liquor section at work
and as i was pushing baskets outside
and swearing at every albertsons customer
i contemplated the combination
of that vodka and your sweat
that vodka and my sweat on my skin
and whether you would want to taste it.
i figure since you’re an alcoholic
my chances are good either way.
i am curled up on the sofa/
sinking my toes into the grass/
sprawled across the bed/
stretched out on the floor/
bending over to search the backseat
where you fucked me
and if i roll over to the proper angle/
stand in just the right spot/
press my face into the sheets/
turn my head just so/
drop a book in the perfect spot
i can still smell you here
as i nuzzle the red velvet/
shiver from the stroke of green blades/
snuggle beneath my comforter/
twist against the rough carpet
in search of a better position to lay in/
bump against my seatbelt,
i wonder if i am everywhere to you as well,
until i remember that you have never taken me inside your house.
sometimes i recall with a start
that i had seen him fuck before.
it was the first time i was ever pleasantly drunk
and we were sprawled across his bed,
myself, him, his girlfriend and my insecurity–
it folded itself between us so neatly–
and some words were exchanged and
before my tipsy self quite understood the plot of things
he was there, ripping at her clothes and she was squealing
she was screaming and then she was naked
and i lay beside them like an infant in school
rapt with drowsy-eyed voyeurism, stubborn, contrite
watching him batter her body
as though the only way he could give his love
was to beat it into things.
and because i understand the need to scar others
in order to be certain one’s love does not slide off,
i thought nothing of it
or of how close we were to his parents’ room
nor how strange it was for someone to yank my hesitant fingers over
to torture his girlfriend’s breast. she had flesh-colored nipples
and i liked how they felt.
months later, examining the scars on my own neck and back
i remember with a laugh that i once thought
i could never survive being fucked that hard.
he came as a shock
under the setting of the sun,
a backwards green mario cap
and all the old jokes, the same smile
the usual flash-fire raised along my spine
in flawless remembrance.
the sex came as a surprise
and even though i bear impressions of his teeth
reliefs artists might shiver for
while dentists clamored with fists of fifties,
even though miniature knives pierced my labia
when i pissed not thirty minutes ago
(he is always so rough, he tears me i am sure)
i am still not sure i wasn’t dreaming.
before my shower, my skin carried his scent;
i did not want to be clean, but compulsions are demanding
and so i scalded his sex, his teeth
and his memory from my flesh with guilty pleasure.
he is home again and his lungs are caving in
as here in my living room i blow, frantic,
on the embers of his memory
and write a poem to hasten the flame.
is a boy on a white bed
with fingertips pressed to the vein
of his cock, like testing its vibrant pulse of ardor
like a woman with her finger slid between
swollen labia is a slut
and who decides which is which?
all i see are two naked people
who need someone else to touch them.
if it were as obvious to the ubiquious ‘them’
as i like to think it is to myself, all these stories
these furies and fervors of gorgeous living
scrawled in tiny print on those lines
cut into the sides of your grin,
would i like you as much?
if i did not think myself the only dancer
to the rhythm of your existence
would i like you as much?
the hum of so much butter-pecan rough silk
over pink tendon and hard white bone
and knobs of knuckle clenched around necks
of guitars and women: would i hear it so well
or listen so hard for it
if i did not fancy myself your only audience,
it is like cinderella’s mother-in-law once posed:
are you the tortured beauty because i want you to be–
or do i want you because you live at all,
and who can tell?