raise your hand

i would have different landmarks

to trace our path

to hell,

a concrete room

with one way out:

embrace the fact that you have cyanide capsules covered in enamel, balanced in your gums like

the teeth you shed when you were a kid,

grew back into daggers, sink into other people’s flesh,

wrap your arms around the throat that told a body it was worth less and choke.

pull those secret things out of a mason jar:

i go through those love letters you called criticism,

i would’ve cared better if i wasn’t so sick like you left me,

i took my aunt’s facial cleanser while she was locked in the psych ward,

I’m not sorry for still being mad at you, raw and real and unpoetic in public,

i want to understand without conversation.

i can’t get back the time i didn’t speak to my father, my sisters worry about what their friends say about my body, my mother worries i am ill for all the wrong reasons.

i will never forgive you for making me an excuse for your rage.

i’m afraid to drown or fall, so sit far from the ledge;

in every dream my body has magnets:

north pole, my ribs,

south pole, twenty floors down.

i am moving closer today, grasping for when i can recall that my whole life would have been worth it for

holding my sister while she cried at a funeral

or putting the baby to bed with a heart full of hope and all that bathwater still warm

or the frantic confessional bar stool where someone or ten told me i saved them so thoroughly i am a fused disk in their spines

or just to be brave, for me, in those private moments in my room, when i was my own hero in a bootstraps and rub-dirt-in-it nation.

relearning to hear my own breathing as a drumbeat.

say yes.

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Seek & Tune

hello

I am the print on the window. 

sing me white-knuckled at midnight

when the roads are sleek 

I still make the sign of the cross

kiss my fingertips

and clutch my nana’s rosary

never been in a big accident —

didn’t realize with all this adrenaline

I can hear the screaming of metal 

every second

it’s my teeth turned to diamond

it’s my eyes burning tar pits

it’s these things I’ve said and can’t drown out. 

is it fog or pink cloud? 

if you know you’re the only one who knows

I want to explain but with less visibility;

I want to admit I can be better

but the harshest critic’s smashing car windows

and stealing keys. 

I at least need to see the road. 

but what if I can’t

accept the way the radio never plays

any good songs anymore 

and no one else knows how to drive. 

stay in the car. 

lock the doors and roll the windows down. 

loved the smell of gasoline

til I turned up torn down

and drowning. 

buckle up or down. 

now I worry the battery’s dead. 

I know it’s new, but. 

if the battery was dead. 

I couldn’t do it but I can’t drive better. 

I don’t let myself park. 

it’s Christine or lightning, or a thunderbird 

I forget what I call this heart when I’m good,

when I’m bad I remember lemons. 

I gotta take a spin, I gotta drive somewhere

til I hear that whisper on the radio

even though they never play good songs anymore. 

maybe they’ll play one for me. 

Not An Apology. 

I made a copy of my keys for you. 

Learning how to say sorry in a lot of silence. 

Made an encyclopedia set out of between your lines, 

Profound promises I still refuse to keep. 

I keep all your love letters

Lest they let me forget

My body was your garbage dump, pink matter a boxing glove. 

No, if it has more than two words

It’s in a clear plastic box in my closet

That matches the one I keep 

My sex stuff in,

Perfect masturbatoty set. 

I’m looking for settlement 

But we never ironed out how divorce clauses

Don’t cover still dreaming I’ll wake up in your room. 

Lungs gather moss when damp with your dew

And I can’t imagine a summer in air conditioning 

And your knuckles have met new people’s jaws

And when did we let it get fucked up?

When did you decide to read this poem?

Can you chart it on a linear timeline 

So I can compare it to my stretch marks? 

Did I ever tell you 

You’re still my heart, 

I just keep you in a box–

I guess I just did. 

How is your brother doing?

Are you better at sleeping sound?

Too many questions for someone who

Thinks so little of what I have to say. 

But I am springing up!

Maybe one day I’ll grow enough to wrap around

Your trellis,

The fingers of your left hand,

My own neck. Fold this into your wallet

Or replace the poem I once framed for you. 

It should inspire some emotion 

That I am still dying from your love. 

sterile

I am facing every nightmare 

Like tornadoes are hairdryers. 

Forget happenstance,

I made the majors, the majors made me. 

In the future I am no longer afraid to make myself try. 

Correction, quotation. 

Atlantic is a wading pool 

For deep sea dreaming

I can appreciate a good underwater wreck like anybody else

But you don’t see me bragging bout what I returned. 

Always room on the board for one more. 

Can always get a little better. 

Never really realized

I have a body of silly putty bricks, keep your thumbprint 

On my skin

Til I stretch out. 

Tight calves, deep breath

Hard heart, deep breath. 

Zero is neither negative nor positive 

So stand like your back can’t break

When it whirls round the form

Of what they call

“your body”

(still trying to get back to the strange, all the stars call you home). 

Some days Chicago looks so aquamarine

And I’m not afraid to cry

And I can say I’m in love

And I never knew myself so beautifully. 

Recognize my eyelids are sunsets 

And smile is a hearth

And I’m not leaving voicemails for who you used to be. 

It’s almost as if I can move these concrete shoes. 

Ha!

Now!

Short sight, deep breath

That gut feeling, deep breath. 

Legends

how to tell if you’re a long-distance nothing:

I listen

to temptation on this broken record player

modern but fashioned to feel

worn-in

while I dream of my grandparents’ 

first dance. 

want both tulle and tuxedos? 

mason jar centerpieces like every other couple? 

whose mother will cry first?

I say this all while my 

spine would melt

candle flame under Galway crystal butter dish

if only you would touch it, please,

if only it was you,

if only the waiting got easier 

once you know waiting is what gotta let go,

but it’s in your eyes, the waiting,

so I kiss them in my sleep,

my left in your right and vice versa. 

should we dance to miles davis or sinatra?

where’s your t-bird, and can I wear your pin?

do you like drive-in movies about

perfectly functional relationships?

I don’t know, sometimes they’re kind of sweet. 

when you run out of firsts, at first

you feel sad but

you,

you’re something new

but something familiar. 

salt lamp

stay in your bed when you got nightmares

once it was you on the couch

all of my phantom suicide slight of hands

no match for you saying

you’ll wait it out

and be there when i dry again 

remind me why we glow so bright

remind me how the earth is real magic

everyone who says otherwise, they’re 

fool’s gold

i’d rather have Himalayan salt 

rather it’d be just me and you

like it was meant to be from the start