I had a life before I made you that sweater.
She had a life too.
She thought you’d note the sacrifice.
I bit her once; my hobby is sharp.
Tread here carefully. In my past life I
was majestic. They talked about my
My marrow tasted her … all
crimson and metallic,
that stain under your elbow, I bit her.
I bit her all sharp smooth splinters
and she wept: called
it a sign from God.
I called it ignoring the elephant in the room.
That blood. You should taste it, salty
Soaked between my fiber.
You might like it, she thought you
might like it. The way
her soul tastes.
She thought you might like it.
I told her no.
She never listens,
She’s got scrawl on her flesh.
She wanted to write you
a poem in cotton.
I told her cotton shrinks
too easy, bleeds too easy.
Wool makes good clothes.
Like incessant hugging.
She always squeezes too tight
the objects she loves.
Makes her stitches too strong, too
The night she learned to pearl, my
skin matched the color of her knuckles.
All bare boned and contorted.
She learned to pearl.
That was the night she tamed me.
I gave her my memories.
I promised to keep her warm.
You wear her around your neck.
That girl. All
Salt and Commitment.
Every night I taste her.
You wear her hands out in public.
Fingers all splayed and desperate.
Can you feel the gravity?
My tusks were large once.
Once I let a man ride on my back.
I painted pictures once.
They were beautiful.
I painted pictures once.
Your sweater is beautiful.
I painted your midsection a
masterpiece all gold and forest.
Can’t you see it?
On the bottom … where
the colors bleed.
Those were the nights she needed you:
all salty and commitment.
So I tied her fingers up in knots.
Made her unwind the wool.
She told me she wants to knit you socks.
I said no.
Unravelled her three times
onto the floor. Three times she
recoiled into a ball.
She hasn’t touched me
in six days. Six days she hasn’t
touched me. I just want to taste
her, the way her fingers slide
across my marrow. That girl.
I sit on the coffee table waiting.
It’s been a month of waiting.
All salt and committed.
I see you in your sweater all
cold and distant. She promised to
keep you warm. I promised to
keep her warm.
At night she cries. She only measures
feelings by the stains on her cheeks. I
bit her once. Told her no.
Her blood, can’t you taste it?
The first time you were willing to call it a one night stand, you were 23.
Not because you had never fallen into a stranger’s bed after a night of early laughter.
You called it a one night stand because this was the first man you invited home out of fear of going alone.
Because tonight, you couldn’t stand the thought of fighting demons with
nothing but the sheets and a pen to protect you.
Because this time, you didn’t bother pretending there would be a tomorrow, or a next date, or even a next word.
Because you tasted sorrow and mistook it for longing.
You invited him home without ages,
last names, safe words, bedtime rituals or phone numbers.
Because he let you hold his crying body in your arms.
Because he was breakable and unapologetic.
Don’t tell me you’ve never held a lightbulb in your hands without desire to squeeze.
Never wanted to hit a stranger purely to hear an outcry.
Never ripped the face off of a dandelion simply because you could.
Don’t tell me someone else’s hurt doesn’t beckon you to crawl in.
And there you were,
pressed tight enough you couldn’t discern the limbs from the bricks.
There you were 3AM trying not to wake the floodlights below some kid’s bedroom window with your laughter:
Him, fingers asking permission to touch your breasts,
you, begging him not to handle you lightly.
Him, biting your neck because a poet is always hungry,
you asking if he wants to come home with you.
Most people don’t understand that a novel isn’t a choice. It’s 20 years of pain welled up in concrete words like bricks keeping up the apartments she’s left her mind. I don’t think many people realize that pages are suffering. Pages are turmoil, some sick feeling of vague depression, stale coffee…
The morning after, he will offer to walk you to your train. Say No. Be your own escort. The world brims over with fearful women, women too timid to step alone onto cracked sidewalks. Afraid they might fall in.
He will try and pull you back to bed. Lure you with his warmth. Say No. Leave. He is not worth throwing away your dreams for. His broad shoulders will not carry you from this dawn to tomorrows sunset. He cares for you in this moment. Everything shines in the afterglow. Everything shines but this place. This room will swallow you if you allow it.
Two weeks ago I was driving to his place. We would drink wine and smoke cigarettes and I would dream of laying on rooftops with him as breath floated away in Chicago winter.
Too many eternities have taken place in the nights since then. I want to feel his hand cup my jaw, the nuzzle of my face against his chest. But those are her traditions now.
After the holidays we were missing.
Left a piece of ourselves behind,
We were different people.
The pieces we brought back,
Like stones on our backs,
They made us difficult.
It does not matter.
We are different.
It is tangible.
Our flesh, it is cold now.
Space grew between us.
We couldn’t stop the goose bumps.
The hills and valleys on our flesh
Came before dawn alone in wind chill and brisk walks.
We had butterflies.
Ignore the metaphor.
It was cold.
This is all we know.
Our parent’s children,
A generation always moving,
Our expectations, they match,
We: our parent’s children.
Brought up on secrets,
Know how to keep them.
We kissed carefully.
Arched back with moan.
The songs echoed between our bodies
They had rhythm once,
Rhythm my body danced to,
She loved you,
I could not stop her.
You made love under sheets,
Thrust knots into wood grained floors.
She and I were one then,
We loved you.
You grabbed my hands,
Held them above my head,
Looked for her in my eyes.
Your pupils held my reflection,
But I was not she any more.
We were not we any more.
Just two people, longing to feel.
We came back after the holidays — different people.
Left a piece of ourselves behind, or, maybe, it was the pieces we brought back. Stones on our backs, they made us difficult. It doesn’t matter. We were different. It was tangible. Our flesh, it was cold. The goose bumps we felt came from wind chill and brisk walks. We used to have butterflies. They died. It was cold. We ignored the metaphor.
This is all we know. We are our parent’s children. A generation always moving to nowhere with expectations to match. We are our parent’s children. We know how to keep secrets.
We kissed each other carefully. Indifferently arching backs with moans. That night, we made love on the floor on blankets. Fleece cocoons. You grabbed my hands as you held them above my head and I could see you looking for her in my eyes. I saw my reflection in your pupils and I knew I wasn’t her any more. We were not we any more. Just two people longing to feel; longing for life.
At first it is all jagged,
Concrete edges and loud curves.
You don’t fit here,
Your warm body and fluid motions,
They do not fit.
These cracks, these sidewalks, they get bigger each winter, but they do not make room for you.
It is Late nights, lost nights, spent upside down,
And nobody knows your name or cares to listen.
Eventually though, there is a shift,
Eventually it becomes familiar,
The same noises that were once choppy and intrusive,
An unknown tongue,
They become beautiful music,
You can’t see it happen
It becomes a language you have learned the hard way,
Through loneliness, wrong turns and scraped knees,
Through heartache and struggle and doubt.
It is now yours.
This city and it’s language, they are yours.
With the ever beating rhythm.
The odd customs,
The late night noises,
The never sleeping trance.
It takes you over until the thought of anything else is what becomes foreign.
Growing up I knew about leaves
Knew they turned with the seasons
I saw them.
I have two eyes
They deceive me.
What I mean is that I am nearsighted.
I’ve spent half of my life only seeing what is five feet in front of me.
When I was twelve, my eyes became lenses,
They saw the leaves on trees,
I learned that perception is not reality,
A body will fool you into believing the impossible.
If I tell you I don’t know where I am going,
This is not an exaggeration,
I genuinely can’t see shit
My glasses keep going missing.
It has been months since I have been brave enough to look into a mirror,
And I do not call myself beautiful any more,
I might if I could bend the light
Make it bounce back and shift the shadows.
But I cannot bend it.
Light does not bend