John David Morris Meriwether
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
attracted because believe close
don't everything feel feels felt
his just kind know
last life like
love man me men
more my myself
need not now poems poetry read
scared see sexual something
stories thing think thought true
up very wanted
people get forgotten.
the worst part is
people sometimes forget themselves.
sometimes we need others
to stop us in our tracks
and look at us in the eyes and tell us
a man is standing on my sweater
the rubber sole of his boat shoes
just brushing the hem of knitted stripes
only moments before,
I lay in my bed
on the white sheets
posed for sleep
and the room was empty
save for the scattered bits of clothing
and shards of private moments
crumbs of food eaten in solitude
but now there is a figure in my doorway
he has been dipped in the midst of all this
and he lightly places his foot
through the threshold
i just want to dip myself into a piece of music
and swirl around
without hunger or fear
the roundness of your being
the curl of hair
and of eyes, lips, inside a circling face
the small fingers which poke me
or which become hands that hold mine
on the floor of a small room
laid out across the carpet
drawn out into a single line
your hands, your eyes
holding words and secrets
like the tiny cups they seem to be
held out in front of me
asking to be filled
ever in need of a vessel
I want you in my arms,
but instead you are a pillow.
The emptiness makes up for my fingers in your hair,
the cold bed is your breath.
I want you bad,
but not when you want me.
That would be too easy.
I say to myself: "I'm going to write a poem."
So I situate myself in the proper place to do so.
But then, what to write about?
I look about my room, as if this is supposed to inspire me.
A teacup, a candlestick,
Box of unopened fig Newtons,
Mess of clothes on the floor.
It turns out, I'm not a poet after all. Either that,
or I'm in the wrong room.
I snuck a cigarette in the back yard
at 10:45 in the morning.
The sun shone bright and shaded the smoke gawdily, so
I smoked it in the shade, behind the fence,
keeping an eye on the sidewalk to make sure the coast was always clear.
The dog was on his leash and he stared at me guiltily.
"Why do you give me that look?" I said,
I petted him affectionately,
that seemed to suffice.
I made coffee in my bedroom, filling the electric kettle
with water from a mason jar.
I wrote two postcards to friends in China while it brewed,
I drank my liquid breakfast,
and stepped in cat vomit.
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
I screamed at her as she lay docile on my duvet.
She gave me the blankest, the most Idontgiveashit cat look ever.
It happens most nights when I'm feeling sort of sad,
but mostly really tired and confused.
I've been thinking too much, about too many things.
And my brain has finally quit.
And all I want to do is cry my eyes out and feel better.
All I want is to be held and to be loved without reason.
I want to lie down in my bed, and feel a body wrapped neatly
around me. I want someone to cry onto,
someone to understand. I want something so cliche, it would be perfect.
I don't want to care about life,
about art, about my future, about myself,
I just want to cry and cry and cry and
lie there with someone and be held and be understood.
I need a vacation.
I need a break from my life.
I need perspective.
I need someone to hold me without asking me what's wrong.
I need to cry until the sun rises.
I need to not think.
I need a break.
I need time.
A dawn is breaking
Over the line of Atlantic expanse
A piano is playing
But only through modern implements
A soft mechanical din is
Heard over it
And children are at once quiet and asleep
As men and women scruffle to find comfort
A small light finds its way across the open Atlantic dawn
And blue takes over black slowly
I am restless and racing
The destination must be near
That moment, when you kiss Don
good night and then turn away
to switch off the light on your bedside table,
and the smile is suddenly wiped off your face,
those three seconds when you rest your hand on the switch
and then quickly engulf the room in darkness,
that is your entire life.
Water still hung on the grass,
so I laid myself down in the dirt for a while.
My back against a tree,
trying to fall asleep.
Sitting in the dirt, up
against a tree,
underneath a sky.
far away from
Chicago's winds were violent
that February day.
The air was unusually warm,
and the city once again bounced
up from its winter grave.
But all at once her winds blew fiercely,
Reminding us of
gargantuan and steam-punk,
craftsman and industrial,
pressing down on us as we happily
walked down her sidewalks,
and crossed her streets.
She smiled from way up there
and all around,
blowing her winds with extra tenacity,
from our comfortable jaunt.
i'm excessive and irrational,
I don't think clearly, i might have no morals,
and i don't make wise choices.
i'm a bad person, really,
and I feel inferior to you.
but it's nothing that you do.
you're smart and decisive,
you have an artistic eye,
and so do i,
but you use it better.
i'm silly and sad,
your a firecracker of many colors.
i fizzle and you shine.
i write poems of self-deprication,
and you don't.
When she sat down,
I was afraid she was going to ask to pray for me.
“I saw you across the room,
and God just told me to come over here to pray for you,”
She would say,
with a smile,
her big toe peeking through a worn-in hole,
all shiny and full of Jesus Christ.
You know how they are.
Let me tell you, when someone asks to pray for you,
it's literally the worst feeling in the world.
You feel like a useless piece of trash,
and of course you HAVE to oblige.
But instead she just introduced herself,
said that she had seen me around
the coffee shop she worked at,
and wanted to say hi.
Her name was Julia and she had strawberry blonde hair,
she was a senior bio major,
and when I told her I was a freshman,
I detected a subtle lift of surprise in her eyes.
She was from San Diego, which she said was her favorite city.
Talking about it, her face lit up and she was excited.
We have a mutual friend, as she pointed out as well.
I'll let you get back to your work.
I asked for her name again, the first time she said it,
I was too worried about her offers of prayer,
she said again,
but if you forget, you can always ask.
euehhe ueh eueuehhje
ehje ejeh ejekiiqyte
to a plaque
with gold lettering and
a smiling picture in the corner.
so nice and official.
so beautiful and honorable.
to a room,
in his name,
with carpet and
and tables arranged
a flat screen tv,
framed pictures on
one of the four walls.
so bright, so common,
fought in a war,
got blown up,
gets a room in his name
and his face on a plaque.
so good, and right and true.
and so forever too.