Invisibility is a lonely place.
Quiet, peaceful, but empty.
There are others here, too.
But we're to afraid to speak.
for fear our voices will shatter glass of silence
that shields us from the rest of the world.
A desire rests deep in our hands
to strike the pane, color our knuckles with something
as real as blood and pain.
To see life in liquid form,
coursing down our pale skin,
grasp a hand from the other side
to be lost in deep words
with a like minded companion.
Traipsing down the deer trails of thought
while the leaves of dreams
fall at our feet.
The boys speak of war
as thought it were still a game.
Guns are toys, the bullets are rubber and paint.
Grenades only water balloons dyed green.
The gleeful cry of "You're Out!" upon being hit,
maybe a few bruises mother will ask about later.
They will be heroes in spotless uniforms,
Charging the bad guys with guns a blazing,
crowned with laurels by Norman Rockwell's Liberty, in a gauzy robe.
But one look into a soldiers eyes,
one fragment of a war story,
one flag draped coffin,
one showing of the scars,
one night, holding a sobbing ex marine in your arms,
and you know
that war is hell.
there's still the devil to pay for your trip.
My deepest respect and gratitude to all who have served.
Carve out the marrow in my bones
and plant a flower there.
Split my ribs for fence posts,
empty my skull for a watering can.
Use my hands for trowels,
plunge them into the earth.
I shall be pushing daisies
come the first sign of spring.
We will stand honestly together,
in the sfumato footsteps of the
centuries of lovers that met before us.
He will christen my eyes with kisses,
weave a crown of poetry in our intermingled locks,
whisper Neruda against my cheek.
We will smile
at the way our rib cages resemble wings,
our lungs, the birds, rising on each current
of fervent breath.
I found prayers scribbled in the margins
of my sociology notes.
I am unsure if God still lives
or if we have killed him.
But considering the answers those prayers received,
I believe He is still kicking.
I will undress before the mirror.
Slowly, sensually, feeling cotton slide from skin,
fabric replaced with air.
I imagine what it will feel like,
to have a man's eyes watching the process,
or assisting, with warm hands.
Then my eyes meet my reflection's,
and I realize I do not want him
to see me.
Get the lights, darling
He tells me I could get a boyfriend
if I spoke in my bad British accent.
It's very illegitimate.
I've only ever been to Heathrow,
I have no idea what dialect it is.
But he still says it's sexy.
It would catch attention, I'm sure.
Interest from long haired hipster boys
Maybe the occasional "Oh, are you from England?"
And I could fib and say yes,
because the average American can't hear the difference
between a girl imitating Masterpiece Classic and Keeping Up Appearances,
and a true born Bristolian or Brummie.
"You're sure to get a man," he says.
'But I don't want one.' I think in reply.
I think he really just wants to know
if I am considering replacing his memory.
"Not yet Govn'a," I say in my best Cockney.
Sparrows land on the telephone lines,
tiny scaled feet feeling the vibrations
of clumsy human speech
coursing through the connections beneath.
Come, tiny sparrow, nest in my hands.
My palms were hollowed to fit your wings,
My fingers poised to feel your heart
beat within the down breast.
I rejoice in finding something so beautifully real,
Authentic in your wanderings, your songs.
If only I could be half so truthful.
The last time I broke my own skin
was the last day I saw you.
Unintentional meeting in a coffee shop.
I did not know what to say.
So I smiled, dumbly,
as you hurled the disguised spears
of a wounded heart,
into my equally bloody one.
We paused at times,
both remembering how our lips melded,
the touch of the other's body,
seeing the same eyes glint in a dim bedroom.
Floods of memories overwhelming our tongues,
now stuttering and silent over a scratched wooden table.
I left a few moments after you.
I had meant to go to tutoring,
but sat in the parking lot,
realizing I would never be able to process
Spanish verb conjugations through the fog of confusion
you had just released into my brain.
I drove home crying,
but anger came to dry my tears.
I sprinted around the block
blasting Drunken Lullabies into my eardrums
till my lungs gave out and I returned home.
Found myself panting on the couch,
cried, yelled, cried some more.
Those ten minutes with you reopened every wound.
Desperate for distraction
I watched the rivulets fall down my arm.
Within seconds, I cursed myself.
This was not how one was supposed to handle things.
Blood did nothing to ease the pain.
Only left a scab, which is now a scar.
The emotional pain has faded with the physical scar.
The skin is still dark in a few places,
fading reminders of what we were...
I am a paradoxical mix of vanity and self-hate.
I will catch my reflection,
caught in the lure of my own eyes,
wide, dark olive drab, soulful, some might say.
The full lips, naturally red.
Slender limbs, well made.
The next moment,
I am all acne scarred skin, pock marks,
tiny breasts, weak chin, critiquing the weight my bones carry,
tracing through every thing I've eaten that day,
decided, on a biased scale, if it was too much,
and how much work
will be needed to take it off.
The dichotomy of beauty and ugliness,
each raising separate voices
within the same body.
Both deadly sins, in their own right.
My mind reminds me, I am more than body,
I am also a soul,
but my body if fond of stifling it.
I know I’m not over you yet.
Because I still cry
When I stumble across a picture of you
I forgot to lock away.
I think of them as a sort of litmus.
I’ll know he’s the one
When he makes me feel strong enough
To empty the box.
Maybe I’ll keep one snapshot.
The photobooth pics from the mall.
Just so I can show my someday daughter
A picture of my first boyfriend.
She’ll ask about my first date.
And gasp when I tell her
We got the cops called on us
For making out (I swear only kissing)
In a park.
Or that grandma and grandpa
Nearly skinned me alive for not telling them
That I was going out with a man four years older than I.
An ex marine, smoker, whom I’d only known
For four days.
And thus began a year in my life seemingly taken from a novel.
And we never stop being girls at heart.
Even at 80, in the nursing home bathroom mirror,
I will probably stop
and stare, at the parchment-faced woman,
with wrinkled cheeks and drooping eyes,
and wonder where the acne faced girl,
with bright round eyes,
has hidden herself away.
I will smile at the young, handsome, CNA
as he passes in the hall, wondering
what he would think of me at 18.
I still wonder at the beauty of my sister
and the flocks she will draw at 16
piles of phone numbers at her feet,
Psyche incarnate, I the strange sibling
no servant of cinders, she is exalted.
Not that I am unloved, but it is strange to see
how much the contrast shows in family portraits.
I think my grandmother is convinced
that my ovaries will shrivel up
if I do not find a man by summer.
She was married by 19,
and has always wanted great grandchildren
she loves buying baby things, children's toys.
Kindergarten is the golden age of life.
I did not date in highschool,
but if she saw me looking at a boy,
she asked if he was single,
and told me to ask him over for dinner.
When I hit University,
I found a sweet, mad, mess of a boy
and she was quiet,
but we went our separate ways,
she started up again.
Scheming, the unwanted matchmaker.
Asking if the piano player at church was single,
(he's four years younger than I)
and trying to arrange play-dates for me
with unwitting high school acquaintances.
She means well, I know,
but despite the hopeless Romanticism I harbor
I know I need time, (there are still open wounds),
to fall back in love with myself,
before trying to fall for someone else.
He was born on Bastille day.
Very fitting, really.
The rag tag rebel with a thousand causes
worn down by hard life,
filled with an eternal fount of passion
that somehow renewed itself
after every failure and defeat
(and they were many).
Courageous heart, leathered and layered by scar tissue.
You'd storm every Bastille within your reach
If you thought there was even a sliver of injustice in it,
you'd even invent your own cause,
charge the windmills with a rusted sword,
screaming battle cries you once screamed over true battlefields.
- Let’s pour a little salt,
flavor the Earth,
so She’s the only one to remember
that we were ever here.
2. I painted Care and Sympathy’s portraits,
and (falsely) titled it Love.
And you hung it on your wall to remind yourself
you weren’t entirely alone.
But I’m sure you’ve taken it down by now
and it’s sitting in a corner, under the white sheet of time.
3. And if I faced death today,
I would like to think
I could face him without flinching.
As long as he would strike quickly, in the head or the heart.
I shouldn’t mind at all.
4. He called me tiny dancer
even though I couldn’t dance.
At least not very well.
He still insisted on waltzing
in my parent’s kitchen
despite my stepping on his toes.
Here is how I loved you;
How I still love you.
I fell in love with you how one falls in love with they eyes of a photograph of a hungry child and you want to take them in your arms and play the part of long lost mother and fill in the hollow cheeks and wash the dirty hands and I loved you in the way one loves an old stuffed animal even though it is falling to pieces and the ears are in shreds and the button eyes are long gone but you still keep it on your bed even though you are closer to having children than being a child and I loved you because my heart cracked with empathy and I wanted to fill in the gaps in your soul because I saw how the winds of fate blew through the tatters and froze you to the bone and I wanted to give you the love you had been denied and I wanted to embrace you when the world closed in around you for the thousandth time and I wanted you to be safe with me and to see the pain leave your eyes for a moment and to know that you could stop being incredibly strong for a few minutes and uncork the bottle and spill your guts because I would listen and I would care and it would break my heart but I would keep right on listening because at the at the bottom of the bottle there was a lump of 24 karat gold that was your heart and it was strong and it was beautiful even though it was cold and I wanted to hold it in my hands against my skin till it got warm and I wanted show you just how wonderful of a person you are and could be and will be But I did not love you in the way of a woman who lives and dies for a man and marries him and they grow old together I know our souls didn’t mesh like that no matter how many times we tried to mold them together I hold that part of my love for someone else, but I love/d you in the way that a sister loves a brother that a friend loves a friend and I hope you know that I will never stop caring about you no matter what even if it is from a distance
I still remember how his dogtags felt around my neck.
They hung over my sternum, armor for the heart beneath.
Stamped-steel identity resting between my breasts,
a piece of his soul, almost,
the soldier's lover's rosary.
I said more prayers than there were silver beads.
I'm still saying them.