Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
VIII. trompe-l’oeil

come one, come all
boys and girls
to the menagerie

sip your fill, if it suits your fancy
eat and relish, if you’d like
poke and **** and gawk and gape
oh please do make yourself at home, dear
let this pain and my unspoken words
be your momentary delight

i could never reconcile
real and ruse

make me your canvas
lay your slick brushstrokes
before the paint on my eyes dries

make me your clay
to hold and to touch
master your craft
on my nacreous freckled flesh

make me your cloth
tuck into my glaciated folds
when you feel down
perfumed to hide the rot

pin me up by my wrists to admire
or lock me away with your shame
keep me breathing on
borrowed time and borrowed oxygen
cigarette burn kisses and asphalt smiles

keep the silk on my eyes
that i may see only what you want me to
and learn what it means to play god

you peered down at me
from chiaroscuro temple ceilings
“god or man?”, i could never tell

oh they all want to be me
ashen graphite fingers
worlds bending to my pencil whims
head buried in precal homework
hands tucked into the
holes of our sweaters
fraying laces, scuffed suede skates
swollen ankles, heads through moonroofs
as we coasted on highways and night air

it wasn’t us, but it could’ve been

toasting to our lucky constellations
i let the liquor and brown sugar
burn and stick to my ribs
crystallize into caramel cages
because it got darker and colder quicker
without you, dear
the days swallowed by yawning loneliness
and the fire let me know i was still awake

but it’s hard wearing your heart
on sweater sleeves
splayed out for the world to see

you carved it out with a paring knife
and kept it throbbing with nightstand pills

by law, every process must decay

it is said that which strikes the shell
does not scathe the pearl
but i am the product of imperfections
scraping, gnawing, ripping
like misshapen gears in a clockwork machine

if too, this bloated body was fashioned
by the hands of god

if too, this sickly brown, pockmarked skin
could glow once again

if too, games could remain games
and war could remain war

if too, blood was thicker than water
may these hands be clean

quench your thirst in my fountains
sate your hunger in my briars
dare to **** me dry, dear
(and i will ******* raw)
to relativity: our emotions are never absolute.

inspired by “italian” and “angel” by isaac dunbar.

you know if this is dedicated to you.
the boy at the coffee shop
is, in fact, a barista

he whiles away his time
at odds with metal monoliths
coaxing honeyed shots of espresso
from the scalding machines
and honing his delicate craft

his language is one of
valves, gaskets, filters
copper boilers and pressure

his artistry
in the turning of steam knobs
folding froth into rich milk
the pulling of levers
the milling of fragrant beans
the pouring of flowers

he learnt his calling
when he first sipped that
viscous indian coffee
cut with bitter chicory
softened with caramelized cream
and dark brown sugar

this is what he understood, coffee:
input/output, give/take
ratios and recipes
detailed tasting notes
he spoke to the machines
and they answered eagerly

and the barista thought the world
to work the same way...
till he saw the girl at the coffee shop

questions glimmered in her eyes
and sweet mocha laced her lips
she was nothing like his machines
all hopeful uncertainty and "what next?"

she wears her hair in braided crowns
concealing her mica-freckled skin
behind oversized cable-knit sweaters
scribbling in sketchbooks for hours
she too, honing her craft

he is a
chipped porcelain cup
gilded with gold
letting others sip their fill
till the cup is empty
and nothing remains

someday he will
go up and talk
to the girl
at the coffee shop
but for now
he is just
a stranger
longing from afar

forever people watching
and forever watched by people

for context, au stands for alternative universe: a coffeeshop au is a trope where the barista and a customer fall in love.

thank you to jules for the collab :)
the boy at the coffee shop
is a nameless being
with a permanent hold on her

he fills her waking thoughts
with his soft smiles
and brown eyes
light cocoa skin
a sharp contrast
to the white of a coffee cup

every time she's there
he is too
it makes her wonder
if he happens to work there
but in all her time at the cafe
she has yet to see him
put on an apron
and ask for orders

she longs to talk to him
to banter and to flirt
to have a coffee shop au
all her own

but every time
she tries to speak
doubt creeps
into her throat
and stays there

she is a
chipped porcelain cup
gilded with gold
letting others fill her to the brim
till she spilled over the edges

someday she will
go up to talk
to the boy
at the coffee shop
but for now
she is just
a stranger
longing from afar

forever people watching
and forever watched by people

for context, au stands for alternative universe: a coffeeshop au is a trope where the barista and a customer fall in love.

thank you to jules for the collab :)
  Sep 2021 reignier and wren
it was the hooded-sweatshirt, sit-close-and-pretend-you’re-cold, bleacher-seat,
whiskey-and-coke homecoming that you never had when the leaves changed.
but the leaves changed anyway.

the damp grass smelling vaguely like your fireplace as the world got quieter,
your nose in your precalc and your foot tapping and how-many-years-left
of solo fridays, you counted the suburban stars but didn’t tell anybody
how ******* beautiful they were above your head, because they were yours.

when you wore your high school colors, you were cold for real. no pretense
in your shivering, no flutter in your abdomen because he wasn’t gonna talk to you,
and you didn’t really care, you shrugged. but the leaves changed anyway.

and you changed, slowly. grew taller and smarter and prettier and then the
remaining solo fridays shrank to none, and you left. big sweet snowdrifts turned to spring
and you shared whiskey-and-coke with the city, your stars dimmer but abdomen
finally fuller, and limbs warmer and no sweatshirt because you didn’t need one,
and hands all over to hold and feeling all three kinds of love at once.

and then the accidental homecoming, and the changing of the leaves
and the hooded-sweatshirt shivers and knowing you’re so much bigger now than the
suburban stars and the backward glances of the bleacher-seat kids, but the damp
grass still smells like your fireplace and suddenly you’re small again, just for a
second but god that second, you shiver and turn around again. you’re so much
bigger than this but homecoming, this whiskey-and-coke homecoming still isn't yours.
  Aug 2021 reignier and wren
You see misery,
standing in front of you.
You walk away,
and never tend to come back.

You see joy,
attracting you like gravity,
you hold him tight,
and would never let go.

You see me now,
Neither gravity nor repulsion,
You stand in front of me.
Look in the eyes and,
Fade away.
Too Deep For any ordinary to understand
if someone truly gets its meaning...
I am waiting.
Next page