I forget backstrokes always, like a slip-up satisfaction, ’cause I’d rather you know I’m drowning in you that to play this pretend. I woke up this morning and realized I need you after hunger-strike release and after noticing the freckles on her lips, before backs turned on me. The maybe-baby of my shoulder shrugs is tiring, baby, maybe, call me and kiss me or baby, maybe act like this is an REM whisper track. When all my skin cells are replaced by newer, older, wiser men I will not expect you to wake up with me but I think we can agree I am a lighthouse, and I need constant tending against waves; routine maintenance is your forte, yes? Build back up with broken parts, with your lips on my spine, I’ll tell you which lines of this were inspired by the song I hear when you call me in the morning, or at least that’s the truth behind it. Write me a letter about the things you miss; I want graphic details of your soul’s collapse inward, like a demolition man’s wet dreams, we built the house with no structure so it burnt like paper. When I feel the dark walls slanting towards this foldable frame I remember the light in his eyes and I am more real than anything you gave me.
I hope you know how much I love you
with those late night calls
when you ask why
I laugh because if
made you sick
I’d drain saline solutions on the bus
to the ocean,
to New Jersey shores I was reared on,
where even if I only
had a straw
I’d drink it down
to see you smile.
That’s why you make me smile.
I will someday say
“I know a boy
who made me believe
there were people like me
with hearts that survived a thunderstorm
who loved again
and deserved to be loved.
He gave me back myself
and all he wanted in return
was to hear that
hearts are muscles, and muscles have memory, and once in a while you feel your hand shake that of someone you recognize as the person that teaches you what the word truth meant to you as a child, like a Bible notation you left for yourself,
and eyes see only reflections of light to present color, and when I knew I loved you there was no subtext, just the image of what I’d been asking no god for all those years, just an honest to no-god love, without the subtext of sex or pageantry or reflex, we were new and shiny and honest and I like that about us,
and your legs will walk you back by reflex, and that night you told me that any decision would lead back here
in past lives
lived by divergence but always swelling up
to us on Logan Boulevard
saying we were supposed to be here.
So I come back each month
to the 18th to feel those
whenever-you-need-me moments again.”
Someday too late you will know how I love you,
like promises either kept
or washed away with the water I drank for you
from the Atlantic
to the Pacific,
medicine cabinets to
those tears I saw slide. I am
We leave together.
Take your time, love, we warm like old engines. There may be salt on the ground before we float by but my god you are the most awe-inspiring songs this old radio ever heard. There are five things I want to ask you in your sleep: were your parents the kind who kept your cars clean, so you grew up with a heart like an automatic answering machine? Does the word forever make you angry ’cause no one means it as hard as you? Did you know I can’t trade you in, my face is stuck like this, mama always said I’d meet the right one someday, and mama always said you’d meet a nice one, I just don’t think they knew we’d be selling looking glasses door to door. Is it weird I don’t need to make myself seem better than I am around you, I know it’s a task to fail, I never felt more true than in front of you, and is it weird that it’s not weird to me like flexing my fingers or running into walls or exhaling at night? This is not a love poem, it’s a poem about sleep paralysis and aftermath; this is not a love poem, it’s a Top 40s hit stuck in my head today; this is not a love poem, it’s the first and last conversation of my day being with you; this might be a love poem, but not like that; this is not like that, but I never need to say it, we both know it like laugh tracks; I am so glad we are both not like that, rumor steel mill workers instead truth tellers with no helmets or kneepads when I take a fall; I am so glad you are not like that, and I knew, and I didn’t listen to siren calls; I am so glad that you knew we were meant to be right where we are. We will remember to look back and appreciate what we do today. Pinky swear.
I wear this ring like it’s made of water, I capsized in her dark a long time past but the sink or swim I carved through the lines of my palms pressed me to dry ground. The Chicago River flows through my throat, the dead bodies at the bottom are where I drowned the “I love yous” in their sleep. I was the Mississippi once before you damned me up. Do you still smell like rain clouds? I miss how you shone in the afterglow, I miss how you cried so I would stop yelling and stop the silence and stay, I don’t miss throwing up in the shower. I came clean. I never thought a drought so lovely, but the sun stroke feels like flying and my breath is not so damp to encourage coughing up your name. You kill me on my tongue, you know, but I never cared before so who can blame the denial. I miss almost every night but I can’t ever go back again, it was the tide that killed me, my body is broken rocks some days. My collarbone is the shoreline, recede from me, I got these property damages, the property of damaging a life dam near washed me away. I am wet inside, I am some large percentage water, some smaller percentage a belief in the current. This is your rainstorm love song, this is a water-pail reminder of the broken shells I walked on for you; keep your crocodile tears, I have a shipyard wreck inside, and that is more beautiful to me now than ever before.