We’re Skyping right now
and I want to tell you
you’re beautiful or…something
so I hold words in myself the way we’ve never
I pay a man 56 dollars a week to
listen to me talk
and he knows
if he mentions her
I’ll finally smile
Two springs ago
I spent a lot of time walking this off
kissing words in the direction of the pavement
counting rotten flower petals on the sidewalk
And yet and yet and yet
I didn’t get away
I run yellow lights
burn grilled cheese
I have a host of acronyms holding me back from spontaneity
I’m kind when
I think Jesus is the only one who’s looking
But I’m good at what they pay me for
I love a young woman
She has warm hands and stays up until morning
when she can
Her eyes fill my heart with root beer
Her eyes aren’t the color of the ocean
They are simply brown
and yet and yet and yet
she reminds me of the sea
She’s a mystery
and each thing we share is a wave being born
Every crest, something new:
Going to Baskin-Robbins
Being kind when no one’s looking
Everything reminds me of her
I keep my heart for a root beer-eyed girl
In the only picture from that
night I am wearing a lumberjack
smile like my sawbone across your heart
My arm around you is more confident than
I will ever be
In that night we were made of coconut rum and lemon hookah
and the things I thought I wanted then
because I was too sick to know better
In the present day it’s hard
to tell who the bigger pussy is:
You me or your boyfriend
I never told you that:
After your accident I went looking for a car
but instead I found a crumbling wall to whisper all
my doubts to because no person wanted
to hear them
We take the same blue pills everyday
You’re the smartest person I have ever known beyond my father
And that I did know better
And I knew you knew it too
Maybe I should stop wishing I could have been
the perfect guy for you
I thought that people
were like the ocean
they only changed
when you weren’t looking close enough
And you are wave that’s gone back to be
with someone else
Your Facebook proves to me you’re happy now
And I’m not as bad as I was two years ago
Maybe when a tree falls in between two
the only thing to do is sigh and cut it down
and let it all crumble back into the ocean
You are the favorite song
I listen to fifty times a day
but I still can't quite
pick the words out from the melody
Especially these days
I think you're stuck in the fifties
In a blue and white romper and my
Waiting on the boy with
the keys to the bomb shelter
I was the one who held you
for almost nine months
And I want to help you now
But I'm not sure how
atsui yo ne
boku no shinshitsu
natsu no yoru
Hot, isn't it?
I always thought that you should
be able to see the ghosts
of your past-self
in places of importance
and waiting for you
That you should
be able to get drunk off of summer
Off dirt on your feet
and slanting rays
of golden light,
birds chirping a mile away,
the smell of gardenias
in the hot air
9 p.m. in June should be a perfume
Good summer evenings
should be up there with
I always thought that
nothing could hurt me
That my Dad
could fix everything
With hands stronger than
the Hoover Dam
And I always thought that your
cheeky grin could take down the Himalayas
That God shouldn't hate me,
of who I loved or fucked.
I always thought that people
were like the ocean;
They only changed
when you weren't looking close enough
That the days after tomorrow
had to be better than
The ones before yesterday
Life is like any woman;
Complicated and easy
At the same time
And maybe my thoughts
aren't all wrong
So many things I want to tell this girl
In a group full of middle school blossoms
With too bright eyes
And bright Aeropostale shirts
Their still-round bodies
haven't grown into
That I am proud of her
For being the one that stands apart
With black hair
And a shy smile
That asks me if she can sit down
I wonder if she can be much in awe as I am
In awe of what she will be in four years
I want to tell her that these other girls?
This too will pass away and
You will be so much more than you are
"Can be" and "yet" are words I want to give to her
In a book about tomorrow
To be armor for her for a few more years
And hold her and protect her from what other people say
For now I can give her another shy smile
I feel again as if I've been
fighting a war again
Longing for something like
Either the beach or your arms
I'm supposed to be doing something
writing poems to your eyes
But the last time we were together I wasn't thinking about
Masterpieces of Japanese poetry
Or First Amendment rights
I was thinking about your eyelashes
There you have it.
I'm too tired to write you a love poem, but
I can't stop the words
Any more than one man can stop a war
Than I can dam the Chattahoochee
Than I can damn what I've been thinking
I wanted to put lyrics to the whale songs
So then maybe it would make a lot more sense
Maybe that's a project to do together
When I'm back on shore leave.
Save the date?
Maybe the Germans have some word full of strangled vowels
to explain my strangled vocal cords.
Or the French.
Maybe I should stop wishing
I could have been
the perfect guy for you.
But still tell you that after your accident,
I went looking for cars to beat up.
And instead I found a crumbling wall to whisper all my doubts to
because no person wants to hear them.
The flowers you gave me look better than the ones
He brought for my birthday
And I like these accidental gifts better
And almost accidental kisses
Trying to figure out what you meant to me
I'm the mule in how I won't give you anything
Please, forgive me for that
I'm sorry even if you can't see it
when we hold hands on the swings or something
I think you're better off with someone else
I want to yawn my arms up into the branches of a tree,
Because I'm one of those idiots who still thinks they can get
Everything down on a page of a Moleskine
Your eyes aren't the color of the sky
And they aren't the color of the sea
Your eyes are brown
But I've never seen their color in any gem stone store
They are eyes that drive me out into the street,
kissing words in the directions of the pavement
and the other three people who are out here right now,
who feel the same
Wandering on campus looking for home
I wanted to write you a quiet poem
now that the showers have stopped
And I'd like to think there's truth in my words,
even if you don't know the person behind them
Right now, I crave mountains like
they are as forbidden to me at you,
I don't want to be characterized by my indecision
This constant revision of me, myself, and lies
About not wanting to look into those eyes
that the sky has no right reminding me of,
but those eyes don't make things easy on me
Wipe that satisfied smile off your face, Liebling,
because that's not how it happened.
Whatever you think is wrong.
I'm not sure who these people are,
these people who seemed to think
we were happy, Liebling.
These people who wished us a fairy tale ending.
You didn't get your long life
and I am not as peaceful as I planned on being.
So I wish I could tell them they were wrong,
not about the two of us exactly,
but about the After
They don't understand the continent between us,
at least at first
This continent of Midwest states
and what we didn't tell each other
And then the county lines,
the things I never wanted to talk about again,
the city streets,
and then the blocks of buildings,
keeping us apart
My own silence drove us apart
and I don't blame anything on you, Liebling.
We were the only ones who drove us apart
and the city streets didn't try to bring us back together.
This was never a fairy tale.
But I wish I could tell them how
we saw each other again, how
we kissed in the street
and didn't give fuck what all those people
who had no idea
I want to lie to them so badly, Liebling,
but I fucking can't.
I told too many lies to myself
Because that's not how it happened
I wish I could tell them that this story starts with standing alone
and ends with standing together,
standing with you,
but that's not how it happened.
I want to tell them you're still here,
that I don't have to feel your absence before I'm fully awake.
To miss you like I never missed the sound of a machine gun.
I wish I could tell them we were happy.
But that's not how it fucking happened.
Three decades later
and I still haven't completely figured out what exactly it was,
but I miss it.
I miss you, Liebling.
A vardo, that's what it's called
I looked it up because I had to know
We'll carve our names into the sides
With the pictures of the birds and the gold leaves that
Will shake and tell the names of fifty cites when they do
That list is still being written, phen
Pack light, with light thoughts
Prague sounds to me like a Romani city
You said Tokyo and Omaha
We have to go some place boring to know where we're going next
is worth the cost of wagon wheels
Miami (I'm bringing snacks)
We'll do our gypsy acts for the scientists and the penguins
No cites, just outposts
Can't drive to Australia, but we can float somehow
I plan to make it work (if you're with me, that is)
I want to walk where Genghis Khan did, but without the drama
We take a great photo, us and our moving home
And when I die, give my china to the family
Burn everything else I left, give me to the sky with my caravan
This is for you,
Because I want you to understand
These are the words on the wall outside your dorm room, your classroom
They would be the words on the answering machine
(If we still conformed to things like that
And stopped sending each other texts altogether)
This is the voice in my heart
Telling me I'm not crazy
Man, woman, alien-
He loves me all the same
This is the shit that goes between the "from" and "to"
The sentiments passing from me to you
(This is what Oscar and Bosie knew)
What goes in the subject line?
These days I'm trying not to define
Myself by poorly made labels
This is my invocation
O Muse, spare me the pain of Penelope
Don't make me wait for this too long
But if I have to, at least give me the words to get through it
Take me home
and I'll be the little white-feathered bird of your soul
Stick me in a wrought-iron cage of your own making
and chain my left foot to the iron bars
Even if I would never think of flying away from you
and teach me to parrot back your words
Take me out and let me hop around your palm,
fly around your head
And I'll sing your praises, my love
I'll shower you with my white downy feathers of love
Let me eat a little from your palm,
tempt me with fine words
and I'll never even nibble your fingers
Keep me where I can chirp in the mornings,
jealous of your alarm clock
simply for being the first thing that speaks to you
Kiss the side of my short beak where it meets my feathered cheek
and I won't ask you for anything
And when I shall die, take me,
and put me in that old shoe box
that used to be full of bird seed
and dropped feathers of hope
And bury me, in a plot in your backyard,
And whisper these words:
"Here lies the little white-feathered bird of my heart"
I am human.
I make mistakes and don’t forgive my debtors.
I’m no goddess.
I come from Charlie Darwin and somewhere in Africa.
I burn glucose in my mitochondria like it’s my job.
Whenever I’m down, I remember that I share atoms with dead stars and Caesar.
I live life in color.
Thank you to the cones in my eyes.
I can smell smoke and squawk at chickens.
I write letters to people who don’t live here anymore.
Most of the time I can’t put my thoughts to music any more than I can sing them.
I am not Van Gogh.
I mean and I don’t mean it.
I talk smack and I spend a lot of time setting up bad jokes.
I’m kind when I think Jesus is the only one that’s looking.
I like girls in skirts and guys in suits.
(I am only human.)
And some of my days are good and some of my days are bad, but the important thing is that they are.
Ghandi, flappers, Jack the Ripper, saints, soldiers, Alexander the Great, runaway slaves, Tiglaphileser, Mohammed, Aztecs, wolves, lions, and more dead stars and some dead dinosaurs and stuff no one but telescopes ever saw.
All this loops around my veins like commuters in a subway trying to get home.
I cry when I think about the Holocaust and pets nobody wants.
I spend too much time eating cake and catching buses.
Because I’m only human.
But there are days when I feel small, like dust somewhere between your lids and lashes.
I’m the space in an electron cloud.
There are days when I am huge.
I’m the sun and my world revolves.
I think about Alice Walker, Descartes and Zeno and I am because I eat Swedish Fish and with every step I do get just a little bit closer, just a little bit.
To understanding what it means to be human.