She watches the global white of her knuckles
Whispering every name she knows.
“I came for you.”
Her voice inked up and tapering off, a hasty revision between alphabetical breath.
She is in order, and smells of snowy television.
Throwing up in the front yard at three A.M.
They could never quite bring themselves to tell her she’s beautiful.
But she stands in awe of the swarming sun, allowing it to cleave her conscious.
And carries spiders outside in paper cups.
Sometimes grappling cities to feel the graffiti swerve through her fingers.
Saturdays are best spent behind the books, winter’s used light left to knock around under her eyelids.
All her windows open in honor of Anne Frank
The yellow stars trudge into my tertiary dreams,
Flay one eye open, the other stagnant
Amongst someone else’s half-sleep.
The note sung by the SS’s shoes, sharp enough to shatter
The insolent streets.
Conductors of the White Noise
A spectrum-skinned symphony,
I swallow my melting scream,
At the high end of eight, I am
Of thunderstorms, dragging a bunch of blankets to the basement
A friend of an old lover’s coworker’s cousin,
She is a supernova’s stomachache, stippled with the start of the interstellar.
Although Jews aren’t always this incandescent
She hands me stories through the keyhole,
Pirates whose sole means of sustenance is sugar cane,
Noble dragons and the crooked knights that are their neighbors,
Princesses who shave their eyebrows and keep live mice in their apron
pockets for luck
I am not allowed to cry, no matter how it ends.
I am Chicago’s ketosis
Carbon-dating myself in kilowatt hours
Aged on whatever it is that shines
But what about how she cries for me
Anchors my creaking shoulders
To a rough translation of skin,
It’s like if I eat I will feel all the calories siphoning the sockets inside my head, and I am trying my hardest to fend off the cold front in my throat, because it keeps me awake at night, knocking around beneath my bones.
72, 67, 54, well past zero
Integers of iridescence
Some off-white desiccation
I am so sharp.
An apparition of absolute zero
But pictures of me still amount
To most of the metric system
You’re not good enough
Something’s wrong with you
Eyes like industry
Roving the asphalt flowers
She waits an hour for the ambulance to come,
Gracelessly slung through the cerulean city
The warping of our own white noise and
Strapped to a plastic seat
Inebriated planets splayed
Through the this amber called earache
Until even her eyes are off their axis
Although anorexia isn’t always this incandescent
Gaunt and gleaming
Her eyes always water
Crushed into the sidewalk cracks in case of another fall
She answers most questions correctly
I am unsure
And writes me letters in black crayon
Get Well Soon.
Arthritic as autumn, elliptical amongst my rheumatoids of rain
I have global bones, osteoporosis off its axis
Despite toppling stacks of postcards from places I will never partake in
I will always be
Virginia slim and wafting towards the indigo woods
If I were trained in cartography, I’d stitch the south out of mosquito netting and crumpled cigarette papers.
This is how we say goodbye, pretending not to know.
We will measure the oil slick skyline in miles per hour, asking ourselves how often the Eiffel tower is lonely.
Crumbling bits of long-boned light between our fingers,
Together, we are the euthanasia of elegance.
Half past fifteen and I drive like an arrhythmia, the universe has been promised to my palms, it should have been you, it should have been you, a secondhand hurricane halved, but maybe my skin is always overcast.
You are a constellation’s carcass, flaying open a second subconscious.
There is a certain rhythm to misremembering, but you always come to me clutching at the colors.
You are an estuary, stumbling, gracelessly slung into stillness, embalmed by the opacity of your own hands, yet you listen and understand and agree that grass is the incessant stole of decay, that someone has indeed replaced our vertebrae with tusks of summer, an illicit version of lunar lethargy,
and ten years from now we’ll still be cerebral as stars, drinking cold coffee and crying under the sink, keening amongst the early morning wreckage, the vernacular of Vesuvius.
Sluicing beneath summer's tepid transparency, My long boned bothers, a resplendent redundancy.
There is a certain rhythm to misremembering.
We used to talk about minutes for hours, watching the shriveled stars in their distilled sort of dissonance, a clandestine translatoin of morning's original, if scuffed, sonata.
I came to suck the singed marrow out of a scarlet called caution.
I am quite certain she came to us in color, sifting through a century of sepia fever, came clutching handfuls of fear, gangling an opaque insomnia with her estranged authenticity.
A friend of an old lover’s coworker’s cousin, sickly lunar air gasping for more,
Mother says we’ll manage. Father says finish up. Sister doesn’t say.
I followed her down that faux-satin sink-hole, every old soul’s inevitable trip, helped hang drop sheets in the basement. At the high end of eight, everyone supposed I was too young to understand the words that gracelessly slung their insides into stillness, but she told me she thinks that maybe no one is, cocoon shred thin and softly rasping , an omniscient reincarnation of our radiator.
I asked so many times why we always had to keep the curtains closed, and she would scathe her fingers through her temples, scuffed sacrilege, surely the best location to beg forgiveness for that which Elisa lacks.
“It is an always itch.” She tells me of the ink pen she is never without, gouging adjectives out of the ground. Her hair, still summer’s best-selling brand of blond, embalmed eyes tripping across the tightropes of light.
Between the abrasion of our breathing, I think I fell in love with her belligerent lungs. I splay a change in the weather on the wall, and sometimes we pretend that there are more than two potatoes.
I have always been afraid of thunderstorms. The yellow stars trudge into my tertiary dreams, flay my eyes open. I swallow my melting scream, drag a bunch of blankets downstairs. She hands me stories through the keyhole, pirates whose sole means of sustenance is sugar cane, noble dragons and the crooked knights that are their neighbors, princesses who shave their eyebrows s and keep live mice in their apron pockets for luck. '
I am not allowed to cry, no matter how it ends.
She has to stay at home when all the neighborhood kids play cards on the cul-de-sac, platonic pedestrians sparred by our bad posture and worse poker faces. Alvin Bertram, the size and shape of smoke, teaches us to roll cigarettes out of old newspaper. I bring mine downstairs so she can fill in what is left of the crossword.
I thought about you as I flew over Chicago,
cleaved by swooning sunshine.
It was the color of sound.
I once had a cold and my classmates insisted I was ferreting those tissues away to help fill my children’s place training bra. The only curves you have—are inward. You should be a model—for the baby gap. You gained a pound? So that means you’re back to your birth weight now! My, how you’ve grown, you must be going to Middle School soon!
So there you have it. I am fifteen years old and I have experienced precious few of my peers’ pubertal problems, be them of the male or monthly variety. Some of the kids I babysit assume we are having play dates, and the closest I’ve come to an intimate encounter is having my shirt ride up during a piggyback ride. With a Mormon. Don’t get me wrong. I take full advantage of the free crayons and cheaper movie tickets, but it gets old when people always assume you’re the opposite—not to mention having to fight sparkle-nail and loose-tooth against a gang of eight year olds for the last pair of those rhinestone skinny jeans, then having the cashier gush over how grown up I am to go shopping without my “mommy,” LITERALLY getting shoved in a locker—and fitting, having your science teacher tell you you’ll be more beautiful than anybody after you “blossom” and your younger, Asian friend give you clothes she outgrew in third grade. Not to mention my LOVELY alias, Auschwitz Preemie, or the fact that NO ONE takes my noble aspiration to be a Norwegian thug seriously. This bothers me most. You wanna tussle? You wanna tussle with this? Yeah, you may be laughing now—hell, I would too-- I guess it’s safe to say—I’ve got the late bloomer blues.
He combs freeway fingers through heavy head traffic, take the first exit, my hair sopping coils of second-hand crinoline.
His sand-grain obscenities erode us as we’re skidding asleep, a salted shade of cerulean. Blind eels undulate through citrus eye sockets, acrid lemonade powder penetrating my paper-cup covering, short-circuiting their solar wires, picked clean by a half cup of high-tide.
I will carve a new clavicle with fisherman’s sinew and snippets of crawdad skull, stretch my oil-spill of skin taut over each coral reef arrhythmia, the indigo arch of my spinal cord, you are now leaving Atlantic City.
Your archaic eyes crackle, off color electricity.
Not even our hearth
Has such small hands.
These are the things I don’t remember.
The reason you’re really afraid of the water.
The tea-rose chink of a bone-china daughter.
The first-gram-stained strains of a song that was not heard.
Softly-unfurling,cocoon shred thin.
Your soul is a neon rearranging of rubik’s cube constellation.
Your Kyo-Bird Bones Bend Their Blackened Heads, Beg for Forgiveness.
The undulating tape worm of an off unused paper, poking around for a plot vein to seep into, to suck out of. Humid braids of breath taking mine away, clinging to the back of my neck, the rabbit’s foot beam of your crescent-colored skin, crushing a sickly lunar sneer into my crumbling crater eyes, you are the first footprint on this foreign wasteland, blinking red and blue, the garish striping of those struck by patriotism, am embarrassed bit of pride. You are made of molten moon rock and melting milk weed, the thick plastic listlessness of an august afternoon, lid ever tightening around the arbitrary top, frizzy fire-fly wings pressing against the light-up syran-wrap of our atmosphere I want to be the skim milk splash stirring your acoustic coffee eyes, the fissonary bursts between your bones, breaking down in order to build up.
“Kiss me.” The words shutter out of me on expired film, the click that comes with capture. A trail of minty motor oil trickles down your chin.
Your pruned petal lips wilt with mine, rose-colored thorns.
You are made of streetlights and smashed china, an arbitrary twilight, with eyes the shade of so many afternoons spent reading in it, mine the color of Dee’s Diner, bright and blinking but never completely closed. The smell of coffee draws me in, and we sleep under the stars I see, my unmade bed of cicada wings and shredded gossamer. There are smudges of December in the I’m-fine lines of your forehead. I draw my shoulder blade, the last slice-of sliver of peppermint air sharp against my tongue-in-cheek. I try to breathe through your eleventh birthday. Pink party lungs pop.
Paper cranes, only able to fly when thrown.
My body bulging yet angular, a broken bone.
The china doll your mother always told your not to touch.
No matter what I do, it’s never good enough.
The slipper belongs to the girl like glass.
I hope my breaking upon impact has left one that lasts.
Drowning in the I-tried-to-make-you-see
Can’t swim without water, but you can go too deep.
I wish I could stuff you into my shoes.
Make you trip over you-can-knots-too.
I’m-a-whale-bone-corset laced too tight to breathe.
The silent sob song I hear every time I try to eat.
After I learned to play the scales, I wrote.
Comprised largely of passed notes.
Red-solo skin sloshes his I-don’t-drink.
My-stay-in-bed is the only place I can think.
Shape shifting twig-logs legs
I remember all the things you said.
Skeleton, Toothpick, Helium, Thread.
I am much more breakable
Than the mirror that is on my wall.
Beeswax body melts over my candle-wick spine.
Please read between the I’m-fine lines.
I’m-stuck fingers down my throat.
I won’t breathe easy until I choke.
Hungry enough to swallow me whole.
Nothing I crave so much as control.
My hummingbird pulse swings on the raised bars of my bone-cage.
Those none of the bird sort can break.
Isn’t fifty-eight a failing grade?
Words ridged in all the right places to form a fist.
It’s only so long that I can resist.
Lie-colored tendons strain against the bathroom door.
The heaviest part of an apple is the core.
Called enough names to forget my own.
I don’t mine being, but feeling alone.
In my bottom drawer, beside the blades, a technicality of sustenance( they came from the kitchen), are paper cranes a friend of mine made from math homework and left in the slits of my locker, folded over into something impossibly small. Even at a lesser size, all the numbers, all the indiscernible value, stayed the same.
Paper cranes, only able to fly when thrown.
I never quite learned to make one properly; I always compressed it in all the wrong places, stifling the already quiet creatures into silence.
Paper cranes, white wings stamped with numbered conundrums I could never solve; zero was my answer for everything, and more often than not, it was right.
Even when I wasn’t.
White-wings, so like the ones sprouting from my back, a sheet-like extension of my skin, serving the same purpose.
“How many times have I told you to throw away all that away!”
I already did.
Are my answers always questions?
“I don’t have—“
“…Time for this, hurry up and clean your !@#$# room.”
I waited until she was left, used water that stung as much as soap would have in my eyes, turned on the ceiling fan so she wouldn’t hear me cry, despite the fact that I was freezing.
I collapsed onto the floor, hit not-quite-rock bottom because I was too tired to climb up the sheer thing I slept on;
Hunger has no footholds.
You know how when you say a world over and over again, it looses its meaning? I tried that with fat more times than I care to (or for that matter, can) remember, but it never worked. It wore a groove in my mind, cutting to but never quite past the quick, never far enough for me to come, to go, to bleed, to get out. It was the only word, after a while, that I could recall, mere mimicry of all the things calling it out to me.
It was the only word I could remember.
And it was the only one that I was willing to die for to forget.
Crumpled, ink streaked, breathless blood, blue black and bursting out of veins of the same value, priceless one I’m not able to pay.
I thought paper was okay. Paper can’t break (although, much like bones, the things it comprises, the stories, the poems, the pages, or at least the good ones, are full of them. )
I was right. Paper can’t break.