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Tom Leveille Sep 2016
okay so i’m beginning to believe i was born asleep and still haven’t woken up, or caught in a day dream where my name is the answer to all your security questions. okay. a thousand years of wondering and all i can come up with is that you fell in love with me at a picnic in my imagination. the lemonade we always talk about swimming in sugar and tiny handmade sandwiches from my kitchen, your favorite, extra pickle. don’t forget about the pickles. of course the clouds march in stomping out the sunshine, of course. it was dark and there was lightning so much lightning. don’t be scared just now darling don’t be scared. in the middle of the night we only talk about your version of the story. how i’d ask you to stay, asking you to tell me what’s real asking you with my hands asking you with maps, a country called please listen to me, you should know by now that it is an island too far to sail to according to you. i know i know, who dared name an ocean lonely when all the ships are sinking. we can go back we can turn around where the sky is the gentlest shade lavender, we can go back and have a conversation that has never happened before. when everything is the color of day old bruises i won’t let you down. i promise when i get home i will count every freckle every one. when i get home can we open one of those mason jars full of fresh air because i can’t breathe. i remember that day, although i pretend it was more recent than it was. you were there in a swell of green grass in a dress that makes me blush, and there i was blushing. i’m not sure how i made it out alive, skipping the part in the song where you, long gone come busting through a doorway, through the well air conditioned living room and and across the kitchen tile, to the refrigerator where just like in elementary school, my fourth grade heart wrote all your favorite things on flash cards in the blackest magic marker so i could memorize the things that made you happiest. and you turning around in slow motion to see my face, or where my face should be, the only expression i can make anymore, realizing that you realized that i only ever wanted to be something that made you happy. suddenly you’re tired, and i’m tired too, goodnight goodnight, i’m falling asleep because it’s the only thing that doesn’t burn. i’m falling asleep to go back again. everything glitches and i’m underneath your perfect teeth. you say “i would never hurt you” and i say “just like that?” and the layer starts over again, always back to the moment i asked you in my bravest of voices if i could hold your hand. you probably don’t remember that moment, or maybe you do but don’t particularly share the same sentiment over its importance. you see, i’m always fine until the part where i have to say it out loud, and then time stops. i have always wanted to tell you that something happened inside me that night and now i’m not the same me as i was before. so if you ever cross a bridge. if you ever get my voicemail, if you need me, i’ll be sketching up the dramatic parts in my head and they’ll happen just the way i imagined just you wait you wait. the last scene the very last one, the bottom layer, knee deep in mud knee deep in i told you so, you say “i would never hurt you” and instead of saying “just like that” i reach up to kiss you and the room evaporates. so if you want lemonade and bedtime stories, if i can make a believer out of you, if you want bucketfuls of november if you want grace if you want the courage it takes to ask for grace, you’re over the train tracks you’re almost home you’re almost there. what else can you say besides “okay pumpkin okay sweetheart, in my head everything was beautiful" the doorway now filled with people who send you birthday cards saying welcome back welcome home we’ve missed you, hello. hello. the time spent waiting, chorus of rain, i only invited you over so we could make perfect sense. i only gave my hands away because you didn’t want them anymore. and days later a man with a shark tooth necklace asked if i was okay and i lost it i just lost it. all the little red bricks with their little names carved into them, how they don’t feel comfortable under your feet, how there were hundreds of flowers but somehow we took a picture of the same one the very same one, and how we can’t talk about things like that anymore, how i was sitting on a bench and i didn’t hear you call my name, shaking hands on accident with your parents hello sir hello mam, your daughter is my favorite ghost.
my book "down with the ship" is availible for purchase at sanfransiscobaypress.com / Amazon.com
Nov 2015 · 19.1k
8th st
Tom Leveille Nov 2015
someone's in the next room over
having *** while we
are weeping
what a way to mark the occasion
the day my fingers found a wound
you let someone else doctor
it's upsetting see
the bible in drawer next to us
the way our hands still
fit together
like the torn halves
of a love letter
the way you got
all dressed up like the rain
and how we couldn't tell
the difference in the shower
it was the longest hour and a half
spent crying
the hot water wouldn't give up
so why should we
right?
even though it was scalding
neither of us touched the ****
we knew this was supposed to hurt
your hair
a black mess against my shoulder
my fingers
oil in the vinegar of your hands
our bodies
the great divide
all the sobbing
a river runs through it
without the courage
to carry or **** us
so we step out
and drip dry
down to a mute breakfast
composed of quiet
and last nights liquor
as we came back in
there were people in our room
at first i thought them detectives
dissecting things
to see who had died here
i had forgotten this
was a hotel
and they were only
cleaning up after us
i wanted to stop them
plead
that the sheets were still perfect
that if they clean the bathroom
no one will know
what happened here
someone has to remember
"please
i know
these cigarette burns
by name
i will bury the faucet
let me take the tub
i don't care how
if i have to
i will drag it home by hand
"
Oct 2015 · 37.0k
there are only dates
Tom Leveille Oct 2015
i don't watch home movies
hate them
reason being because
when i was young
i was looking for a movie
my mother
had recorded for me
and accidentally
put one in the vcr
that i'm not sure
i was supposed to see
i know the obvious response
"uh oh, ****"
sorry to disappoint
they were only marked with dates
  1991
on live television
montel williams asks my father
"how can you just throw
your child away like a piece of trash?"

   1994
i spend so much time
in the emergency room
that my parents stop
penciling in growth marks
on the frame
of my bedroom door
i always thought
it was because they believed
i would never grow out
of this sickness
sometimes i believe
the reason that they
never bought me a dream catcher
was because they never thought
i'd live long enough
to see them come true
   1996
i am eliminated
from a spelling bee
because i didn't know
the 'dad' is silent in 'family'
   2013
before i got into poetry
i used to do standup
none of my jokes were funny
one of the other comics
tells me my skits are dry
sometimes sad
he says "why don't you joke
about something like your family?"

so i say
"i never wore any sunblock
because i didn't want anything
to keep me from my father"

i say "what do you call christmas
without lights or heat?"

before he has a chance
to answer
i say "1997. better yet
why don't you
make like a dad and
leave"

   2014
every time we drive
past the hospital
my mother reminds me
how much it cost to save my life
like she'd rather
have her money back
she doesn't have to say
that sometimes she wishes
it was me who had died
instead of my brother
i can hear it in the way
she says "love you"
sometimes i imagine
that if i were to die
that she
would pick out a casket for a child
because she never loved
the person i became
yesterday i told my father
how close i'd been
to suicide lately
and he said
"that's my boy,
livin on the edge.."

and i can't remember
if i laughed
or cried
Jun 2015 · 16.4k
noyade
Tom Leveille Jun 2015
you got a fast car
i want a ticket to anywhere
maybe we can make a deal
maybe together
we can get somewhere
anyplace is better
starting from zero
got nothing to lose
maybe we'll make somethin
me myself i got nothin to prove

i've been wondering
when it stops
people say it stops
when you want it to
but how do i tell that
to my dreams
when all i can think about
is running up to kiss you
in the parking lot of anywhere
it makes me wanna drink
and say everything
like sometimes i think about
what it would've been like
if i had let you go
when i
was still strong enough to do it
like i never knew hell
had such a pretty voice
like i tried to make it all day
without saying
"wish you were here"
like lately i've been going back
to all the places we've been
to see what it's like without you
it is the worst game
of hide & seek
every time i close my eyes
to count
you just go home
i seem to only wear my seat belt
on days you call
on days you're all *never been better

and i just wanna tell you
how much I hate window shopping
and daylight goodbyes
you just sit there
when you could say anything
you could tell me
you noticed i started drinking again
you could even make it up
you could say you miss me, too
you could say
you missed me so much
that the other day
you accidentally bought
two coffees instead of one
you could tell me
how you've been
without me
that you sleep so much better
these days
without having to worry
you can say what you have
to just don't say leaving
was like shooting fish in a barrel
cause i swear i'm nostalgic
for things i pretended were real
and i swear
i don't want a seance
until there's something
worth bringing back
take me back
to all the places i tried to love you
back to a time
where i knew my name  
without you having to say it

*you got a fast car
is it fast enough
so we can fly away
you gotta make a decision
leave tonight
or live & this way
excerpts from tracy chapman's fast car
Mar 2015 · 31.8k
stages of detachment
Tom Leveille Mar 2015
ground zero
i become aware of boundaries
i am a dog chasing cars
i sing your voicemail to sleep
there are no surgeon general warnings
to tell me that
the objects in the mirror
are more depressed than they appear
so how do i tell you
that there are parts of my life
that move slower
without you in them?
or that i look for you every day
in emails & unanswered calls
in the sunrises
i didn't choose to be awake to watch
that i sometimes still stare at doorways hoping you would walk through them
   *stage 1
you tell your new lover you've got a splinter and they pull the sound of your body falling asleep on mine out of your fingertip
   stage 2 your new lover says something at dinner that makes you choke so they call 911 & the paramedics do the hymleich not knowing you would ***** our promises all over the the restaurant
   stage 3 your new lover surprises you by cleaning the house & washes the shirt you kept next to the bed, not knowing it was the last thing you had that smelled like me
after
people always ask
what was loving her like?
after a really long silence
i just say
"it must be nice"
but i never say
it's watching paint dry
i never say
it's a window seat in hell
i don't tell anyone
about the dreams
where i am reading you
bedtime stories
each one is a different way you die
& every time i can never save you
dreams where what i think
are angels in my bedroom
are just homeless versions
of myself you never loved
i have dreams
where i pay someone to shoot me
just to see if you would cry
just to see
if you would cradle my body
i don't tell people
that loving you is like
playing piano
for someone who can't hear
that it's hitting repeat
on my favorite song
& forgetting the words
every time it starts over
that it's finding out
there's no milk after you already
poured yourself a bowl of cereal
it's getting locked in the dark
& being told to
look on the bright side
that loving you is like
being reminded of what it felt like
the first time
you accidentally let go
of a balloon as a child
it's drowning without the water
it's the feeling you get
when you start to dance
& the song ends
Mar 2015 · 18.0k
whispering the wrong parts
Tom Leveille Mar 2015
so you're disappointed
that you're disappointed
and maybe that's to be expected
some folks make beds
out of their catharsis
differently than others
it's this list
of things you lost in the fire
or how jealous you are
of people
who never came back up for air
you're crying
so the faucets leak out of solidarity
& someone asks you
why the floor is wet
so you tell them
"we've been weeping here forever"
then they want to give you
a mouth full of presupposition
by saying
"are you going down with the ship?"
& you look them in the mouth
like Leo is handcuffed to a pipe
five decks down
you look at them
like you just woke up
from that dream everyone has
where all their teeth fall out
maybe it's an intervention
a hearse vs station wagon origin story
a clearance sale
& everything's gotta go
or maybe it's the dream
where you're at the docks
from your childhood
and there's a little girl
unmooring all the ships
because she thinks
they'll float away
but every time
she unties them
they just sink




                                          they just sink
Dec 2014 · 24.0k
measure
Tom Leveille Dec 2014
have you ever believed
in something so blindly
so genuinely
that the moment you realize
it isn't true, something inside you
changes forever?
i wanna tell you a story, see
seldom do i ever
go swimming in drinks
deep enough to drown in
but when i do
i speak in tongues
about things that none
of my memories
are allowed to talk about
like that christmas
at the isthmus
where my girlfriend
plucked a conch shell
whiter than gods teeth
out of the sand
held it to her ear
and stopped time
that day she was a shade of blue
the could've made the ocean sick
see, she loved to play jokes
when she held
the sea shell to her ear
she gasped, called my name
and said "i want you to hear this"
i said "yeah, right, everybody knows it's just the same old sea"
she replied "no. not this one. this one is special. listen. theres music in this one"
she handed me the shell
like a promise she couldn't keep
and i held it to my ear
with all the potential
of seeing shore
after being stranded
at sea for years
only to hear
a tired dirge of silence
spill from its emptiness
i guess she didn't know
how desperately
i wanted to hear it too
because ever since
something inside me snapped
now sand pours out
of every post card i open
i hear seagulls
in telephone static
sometimes i have dreams
where i bury my hands
in every beach
i've ever been on
and exhume this graveyard of noise
every time i try to sleep
i spit up fishhooks
and i guess i'm obsessed
but maybe
if i hold my ear
to enough vacant things
then i could have back
the time stolen from me
since it happened
maybe they would get it
if they knew what i wanted
when i blow out birthday candles
maybe they'll find me
face down in a wishing well
i watch eternal sunshine
of the spotless mind every day
pretending i can forget too
because this sea sickness
has followed me for years
because yesterday
i walked into a music shop
and all the pianos broke
but the only thing
i can think to say is
*do you know how bad
a memory has to be
that you fantasize
about forgetting it?
Nov 2014 · 31.5k
plain as day
Tom Leveille Nov 2014
here's how it happens
the morning after
you reach into the drawer
where the your t-shirts live
to find it austere
you'll shrug because
you're still drunk
& you can't remember
when last it was
that you had something wet
or how long it's been
since you made the floorboards blush
or why the carpet is upset
who wouldn't be
the contents to the upended ashtray
strewn around the apartment
resemble the aftermath
of the smallest war
to ever take place in norfolk
some midnight thief
must've made off with the lighter
because it isn't in
any of your favorite spots
maybe you chucked it
along with a hundred other things
that make noise when they land
in the neighbors yard
you won't remember putting
the refrigerator's belongings
in the bathtub
or scrawling a buzzard
on the bedroom door
but then again who would
you'll pretend it's spring again
before putting on your winter coat
to go out front with a cigarette
in your mouth
you'll hope for a passing stranger
to *** a light from
or drag yourself to the corner
with couch cushion change
to buy a new lighter
and on your way
you won't bother looking back
this is just another day
on eggshells for no reason
another november
choking on birthday candles
on your way home
you step over beer cans
the kind you fell in love with
and wonder who
had the last laugh last night
or if anyone said a word at all
it might've been another
moment of clarity
it might have been some idiot savant
any adjective that feels like home
anything that keeps you thirsty
Oct 2014 · 18.3k
jamais vu
Tom Leveille Oct 2014
and i am eleven again
feeling like tomorrow
is a couple yesterday's ago
smothered in cayenne pepper
hot enough to take off taste buds
and tonight i am eating a meal
only worth burning
it tastes like my parents anniversary
it tastes like a zinfandel
left on the counter too long
it's a bad story, see
there's no silverware
'cause my mom sold it
to keep the lights on
and somewhere in heaven
somebody in a suit
doing commentary
on this fiasco
is telling someone else
in a suit that
"you have to eat love with your hands"
so we sit, four plates on the table
for the two of us
my brother's long gone
dad's even further away
& he's not the one who's buried
i carry both their names like anchors
that i cannot unmoor from
while she looks at the empty table
and says something about the news
she says something else
but she's not talking
we aren't proud of this, see
my dad likes to wax his car
he's proud of it
and my mom says
she sees a lot of him in my hands
says, i touch the things i find
like they didn't belong
to people sleeping in the ground
she says i touch photo albums
the same way-
you know,
i never used to believe
that history could repeat itself
not until i could
fast forward seventeen years
and still wake up to smoke alarms
how i would go into our kitchen
to find it empty
and the dinner smoldering
& my mother in her bedroom
looking through family photos
like it's a just another summer day
and the sirens are just the birds
i don't ask, i never say a word
in this moment
i am an archeologist
afraid to dig up the past
cause history repeats itself-
you see
my brother is dead
and my father is gone
they have been for some years now
and my mother
sometimes forgets
and sets their place at the table
like they're still here
and in the confusion
ends up ankle deep
in pictures of how it used to be
she let's dinner burn
and douses it in red pepper
hoping i won't know the difference
Sep 2014 · 28.5k
river music
Tom Leveille Sep 2014
i love you this morning
it's a come home safe morning
fog on the road
& no seatbelt kind of morning
the sun is over easy
& nothing's on fire
there's punctuation
where i don't want it
and extra love
in the glovebox of my car
been thinking about being honest
how these poems are all me
but they tell the story
how someone else
might believe it happened
within reasonable doubt
no copy & pasted love letters
no 'who ever says hello first gets my attention for the day'
try a little tenderness
in my ears and today
there are instruments
in the back of my head
i think you love me
because i'm sunburned
felt it in a 'come hell or high water' kinda way, that 'touched from far away' kinda way that 'if i touch this piano one more time one of us is going to break' kinda way
and i drove over 17 bridges yesterday and today i'll do it again
and i think nobody gets
what that means except maybe you
i just tell them i love the scenery
that somebody must've made
these trees blush just for me
you know how i love
to change the subject
i bet they'd love the view
i bet you would too
and all these metaphors
for other things are beside the point
this is a metaphor
for why i don't wear my seatbelt
a metaphor for why whiskey
knows me better than you
could ever try to
all the buildings seemed to sag yesterday and all the stars
are doing that cliche thing
where they talk
quiet jet noise
& some lumbering giant
made everything shake
not those hand metaphors
not another one of those
& keep the sea to yourself
i think it was a train
it's sound hugged the embankment
for a moment
and then trailed off into nowhere
and that's kind of like me
how there's a town called 'rescue'
close to my home &
it's no coincidence
that i've never been there
Sep 2014 · 17.8k
dialogue & jargon
Tom Leveille Sep 2014
she was leaving
and got the gumption
to see me before she did
so we went to dinner
she sat, crumpled
at the edge of the booth
playing with her silverware
hands sweating
our knees barely touching
underneath the table
they shook like the day we met
they shook like floodgates
when the clouds get upset
her hair was drawn back
into an apology
and she didn't answer
when the waiter asked for drinks
she pans, tilts
looking for the restroom
but doesn't get up
covers her mouth
to hide her furled chin
i cut her a piece of bread
not sparingly
i didn't want to ruin the symbolism
of cutting a gangrenous thing
from ones self
she half wept out "tell me a joke"
i thought to say "look at us."
that's it. that's the joke.
the premise & the punch line
sharing some silence
here in this ominous moment
so thick with goodbye
you could touch it
i said "when they asked what the name was for the wait, i should've said "awkward, party of 2"
but that's not the joke
"knock knock"
she whispered "who's there?"
i sat for a moment and said
"so we've come full circle.. we're even in the same seats, from all those months ago"
her lips quivered
and she hid her mouth
"i just wanted to hear a joke"
she said
i came back with
*"if i fell for you in a quiet restaurant & no one was around to hear it, does the laughter of children i drempt we'd have make a sound?"
Aug 2014 · 135.9k
epithet
Tom Leveille Aug 2014
and here i am again
at the intersection
of pedestrian language
& old wives tales
swallowing gum
like 7 year memories
opening umbrellas inside
cause i can't seem get away
from all of this rain
i ******* with my left hand
cause i was told
back in highschool that
"it feels like someone else is doing it"
it gets me wondering
about the difference between
losing you and finding out
that some one else found you
or my sleep
or lack thereof
its starting to tear me apart
i keep having this dream
where you are in
an unfamiliar body of water
trying to wash my poetry
off of your hands
or the one where
something happens in my chest
every time you sit
on someone else's bed
i'm tired of feeling like something you've misplaced
but don't have the heart
to look for anymore
tired of you saying my name
like you're trying to bury it
i'm tired of wondering
if you can tell the difference
between the absence
of my voice & silence
the other day
i almost started sobbing
at work when a woman
asked me about
our equipment
i was explaining how
things come apart
and almost mentioned your name
it made me think
of how you used to say
things like "what would you do
if i showed up on your doorstep
one day?" now, i haunt
the windows in my house
i don't leave for weeks at a time
i sit on the porch like the dog
you didn't shoot behind the shed
the one that refuses to die
until you come home again
i told somebody once, that
you didn't even know
what my voicemail sounded like
i wonder if they thought
it was because you
are so important that i never
let it ring that many times
before picking up
or if you dont know
what it sounds like
because you've never called
you can't be the ****** weapon
and the search party
i'm tired of all the seats
to the ferris wheel in my chest
being empty
tired of your voice
being the one i look for
in abandoned places
that one sound i beg
to bounce back
down vacant hallways
i just seem to stand there
in all of that quiet
like someone looking for a mistake
on an eviction notice
so i guess the hardest part
isn't letting go
it's forgetting
you ever had a grip
in the first place
and since you've been gone
i wonder if when
you pushed yourself away from me
you used your left hand
so it felt like someone else did it
Jul 2014 · 18.5k
carousel
Tom Leveille Jul 2014
i always thought
you were thru traffic
that you were just jet lag
background noise
the kiss in the rain
i've never had
but what if you aren't?
what if this
was the thousandth time
i have loved you?
what if this is just a fresh coat of paint?
what if god
keeps a handkerchief
soaked in the day we met
next to his bed?
maybe theres a reason
i reach for no one in bed
the way i would
if someone used to be there
you know, they say
the road behind us
is littered with things
we couldn't hold onto
i wonder how many times
you've slipped through my hands
like hour glass sand
do you know
how much erosion you've caused?
i heard cupid
stopped keeping count
of how many times
we came together
just to come apart again
maybe it was just a rumor
it makes me think
about how many times
i've almost had you
like if all this talk
about history repeating itself
endlessly replaying is true
i wonder how many times
things have happened already
like the time
i tried talking you
into loving me back
back fired
or the time i could have sworn
jesus & lazarus were playing chess
with my heartbeat
but it was only you smiling
how many times
have i tried to tell you
how many times
have you read this poem
how many times
have i tried not to meet you
in my dreams anymore
it's like sleep tries to warn
me of what's happening
before it does but
i keep having this dream
where i tell you bedtime stories
and each one
is a different way you die
and in every one
i can never save you
it's like you're this song
i have on repeat
and every time it starts over
i forget the words
it's like you picked up the book entitled "us"
and the back cover
said you'd leave
so you never bothered reading it
tell me you aren't
going back in that bookstore
just to do it again
or will you tell me tomorrow?
or is this the time
you don't say anything at all?
if this has all happened before
if we call it quits
before we begin
again
from the beginning
i just want to ask you
to be my fire
because i am tired
of these old lives
and i'd like to see them
burn
Jun 2014 · 16.8k
məˈräZH
Tom Leveille Jun 2014
do you ever wonder
about the difference between
looking at something
and the hallucination created
when looking past it?
if you look at your hand
it's all you can see
but if you look past your hand
there are now two of them
sometimes it's hard for me
to remember which is real
it gets me thinking
about how my father
used to wake me up
in the morning by rubbing
his stubble across my face
i spent my 11th birthday
under the assumption
that he might come back
if i drank his aftershave
like maybe if i could turn blue
if i could be his favorite color
on our bathroom floor
he would forget why he left
the paramedics were all sobing
as they pumped memories
out of my stomach
i coughed up the day the post-it note with your new address on it
burned a hole in our refrigerator
coughed up the day
the divorce papers came
and my mother
took a baseball bat to the mailbox
i've been choking on the splinters
for 17 years
it's been 17 years
since the last dinner plate
exploded on our dining room wall
17 years since my mother
started accidentally setting your place at the dinner table
17 years since italian night
at the restaurant on the corner
where the juke box
spat tired music
and like so many other things
it stopped working when you left
i guess it's no coincidence
since the juke box went quiet
that the cds in my car
only skip on "i miss you"
i've been hemorrhaging memories
for so long
and now that i'm looking back
i can no longer tell
the mirage from the truth
sometimes i swear
you showed up to my graduation
and last time
i was at your apartment
i can't remember
if the imprints of my hands
are in clay hanging on your wall
or if they were left in the mud
the day god had the audacity
to let it rain
or maybe it's like the time
i saw someone crying on a bridge
now that i think about it
i can't remember if it was me
Jun 2014 · 15.1k
seance
Tom Leveille Jun 2014
while september cicadas
were singing my neighbors to sleep
i was up walking holes in my shoes
over love once lost
so many poems ago
that the only thing i remember
about the house at 38th & bluestone
is that it reeked of alcohol and is
as i'm sure of it
still saturated in perfume
and abandoned laughter
but that's not the point
give me a minute
what i'm trying to say
is i always thought god
enjoyed watching things leave me
it makes me wonder
what was on his mind
that night in september
when i stooped to cough
or tie my shoelaces
i no longer remember why
but i recall their trajectory
the way gravity cradled my hands
and brought them crashing back to earth like a 747
they landed inches away
from a scrap of crumpled loose leaf
folded in half like the smiles
of my relatives on a holiday truce
you see, lately i've been looking for scars in the newspaper
i find myself checking the obituary
for my former selves since the day i found your suicide letter
maybe that's why i can never explain my obsession with history
maybe archeology is just a funeral
in reverse
maybe hell is just rewinding home movies
or watching confetti
turn back into photographs
i never told anyone
the reason the doors to the gun cabinet in my family's house are locked not because they are afraid
i will take my life
but because sometimes
i sing them birthday songs
on the day you died
it makes me think
of how rooms only echo
when they are empty

*you know
i never echoed until you died
May 2014 · 44.2k
submissions to post secret
Tom Leveille May 2014
kissing you was like swerving into oncoming traffic

i can never tell if i am more haunted by empty picture frames or the ashes of their contents

you taught me that the saying "pick your battles" meant not answering when love was at the door

sometimes when i drink whiskey i swear i can hear your voice in the creases of my bedsheets & i sleep on the floor

i still catch myself running my hands over things you touched the most, looking for the echoes of your fingertips

i practice things i'll never say to you

i remember the day you told me you didn't like poetry, how "everything's already been said" & how "nothing meaningful can be captured without being cliche" you know, i don't miss you like the sun and moon, i do not miss you like tide bent waves crashing on the shoreline, i miss you like a chernobyl  swingset misses children

rumor has it that drowning is a lot like coming home, that drinking bleach can **** the butterflies in your stomach

for your love of cigarettes, i would have been an ashtray

this halloween i want to dress up as the you when you loved yourself and show up on your doorstep

i never understood what you meant when you said i was an instrument, back when you would cup your hands around my chest and breathe through the holes in my heart, i still wonder if the sounds i made remind you of wind chimes

i never paid much attention to abandoned buildings until i became one

in my dreams all the flowers smell like your perfume

i am the only person who has ever wished for the same snowflake to fall twice

if i could go back, and rewrite the definition of audacity, it would be how when we lost the bet of love, you said "we never shook on it"

i love you, if the feeling is not mutual, please pretend this was a poem

the only apology i want from you, is to have you repeat the names of children we will never have in your parents living room until they *****

we are the same person if you find yourself up at 4am dry heaving promises, or if you are kept awake by the laughter of those who've abandoned you

nobody ever told you that goodbyes taste like the back of stamps

sometimes i'm convinced that the only reason we hug, is so you can check my back for exit wounds
May 2014 · 22.2k
emergency room knuckles
Tom Leveille May 2014
i have racked my mind
trying to figure this whole thing out
the staying, the going
the threads we claim hold us here
& the people who've stopped to play a tune on them
i sometimes relate it
to waking up in waist deep snow
in our former selves
the us we wish we could give one another
the children we've sat on the shelves
trapped, like the looks
we leave behind in snow globes
i sometimes imagine ships
dragging the bottom to the sea of "me"
for sleep & pieces of my old self
to sell to the new one
like history doesn't repeat itself
it gets me wondering
if you too want an apology from the rain
or if you dream of burning family photo albums
and wearing the ashes like perfume
if you're anything like me
how i hope god chokes
on memories of me blowing out candles as a child
i know i shouldn't reference my reader  
but don't you know, the only difference
between alone & lonely is you?
that if my hands could talk
the only thing they'd be able to say
is "dear god we've missed you"
and how can you tell me it isn't love
when even the rain refuses to fall
in places where i've kissed you
i remember the day
you found my smile at a yard sale
it reminds me of how you'll leave
i wonder if when you go
you'll tell yourself
the person in the rear view mirror
is closer than they appear
Apr 2014 · 17.9k
hands on fire
Tom Leveille Apr 2014
let it not be confused
let no one else's name
ring throughout these sentences
let this be a hatchet
let me put this to rest
this is not a test
i don't want to think
about shipwrecks anymore
i am tired of folding apologies
into origami birds
and placing them
at the headstones to your tantrums
this is not is not geology class
these are promises
written on razorblades
      & if you are getting choked up
        then maybe you should be

maybe we should be buried
with our telescopes face down
my mouth is full of sorry
all for being honest
we are falling out of orbit
we are burning bystanders
so cast away your callous condolences
because no one is clapping
in this waist deep water
this is not a baptism
so do not tell strangers
that this was a chance to drown
any differently
i am not a catalogue
of constellations you cannot name
this is not mythology
so stop believing your horoscope
i am not a wishing well
i am just a wall for you
to paint post nuclear fallout & antonyms for catharsis on
we destroy the things
that are not ours-
the wanton ways
we embody wrecking *****
and then cry over the rubble
this is not a heap or a mosaic
this is leaping
off a thousand story building
with no one to catch you
at the bottom & maybe
that's why some quiet moments
are so fragile, maybe that's why butterflies have mimicry
your words are black powder
and poetry is your musketry
i guess that makes me your blindfold
Tom Leveille Apr 2014
i can feel you
distancing yourself from me
i can feel continental drift
i wonder, do the shoes
you wear to run from me
have holes in them?
or do you go barefoot
careful not to make a sound
in your retreat. "cover your tracks & don't look back" i imagine
your demons whisper daily
as you are growing fond of me
i wonder if your heart puts up a fight when you want to see me
or if it's a massacre
& the demons dance
on dreams you have
of us holding hands
do you wander to your car
only to find yourself back in bed?
do you put your makeup on
just to take if off again?  
is your imagination of me
a graveyard, or a pair of open arms
that are inches away
but just out of reach?
you see, what i've been so afraid
to tell you for so long,
why i feign sometimes
before speaking
careful not to tell you
all my unspoken promises,
it has to do with the night you had your head on my chest and confessed you never thought my heart
could beat like hummingbird wings:
i apologize for my silence
what i've been trying to say
is that my heart hasn't slowed down
since the day we drank coffee together
continents apart
Tom Leveille Mar 2014
2002:
today i kicked the door
to history off it's hinges
my jealous frame:
still too proud to say a word
it seems my folks forgot
to pencil in growth marks
cause they thought their boy
would never grow out of small breath
******* dead, years now buried
and i bare his name
too many syllables
for my father to go back
fish & play football
to stand in the yard and play catch

1994:
my mom, the bombshell in retrospect
broke her back in her sleep
a thousand times
since the stairwell in 87'
she still sits for spills
post nuclear about settling
now from the couch
she's a weather report
spouting nonsense
that makes my father
grow grey, crack remotes
& slam doors to dark rooms
abandoning ship
for "cheers" & "scienfeld"
while my mother
sometimes forgets
and sets his place at the table
and my appetite is abducted
by family photos
my mother says things like
"go see your brother today"
-- Johnny's long gone
don't you remember?
we buried him
the day your smile died

2014:
you are inches from me
******* a stray hair
caught in the fabric of your coat
the last remnants of a dog
we laid to rest last week
and here we are
in the hospital again
people don't shake like dogs
finality is found
in the eyes of humans
passing archways
into shallow rooms
where plague and prayer
are the only songs sung
round the stagnant clocks
it makes me wonder
if the clipboards cry
over being the last thing
someone ever writes on
take a number, have a seat
stay a while
i am back, 7 years old
& there are different doors now
they buried the ones
you kicked in that night in '92
when my lungs
were filled with holy water
you never stopped smoking
*i never grew out of asthma
Mar 2014 · 10.8k
hallelujah
Tom Leveille Mar 2014
i am seven and in your living room
with antiques & photographs
of family that are more like strangers
and handshakes at christmas
there is a jar of circus peanuts by the armchair
and i remember being told that these are here because they are never out of stock
and that they are the only things
children will not want to take from me

i still do not like the color orange.
i am eight and round the bannister
to an upstairs that reminds me
of heaven in that
place i can't go sort of way & i am
knuckle deep in your pumpkin pie
wiping it on my uncles suede jacket
our hands still shake but the jury is still out
on if he looks at me and napkins the same
i hope you do not sleep
with my apologies under your fingernails
i will not say them out loud
i know i should have mowed your lawn
i should have been a home
for second hand smoke
if i could go back i would be your ashtray
i remember the day you forgot who i was
i bound into the room and throw my arms
around you like an armistice
and you ask who i am
we are not in church
but everyone stops singing
i am passed from child to child
while we all laugh
but my lungs feel like
they've been mugged in an ally
who's son does he look like, mom?
my father says like gospel
you pull on your cigarette
sip from your watered down wine and shrug
and i am neck deep in forgetfulness
i imagine alzheimer's
as being born again every day
so, we will spend ages
looking at captions to photographs
telling your stories to strangers
as my father begins to forget
and when i imagine probate
an unfamiliar hand unfolding a will
to be read to wayward angels
i want to burn down the house
and sleep in the ashes
Feb 2014 · 10.4k
letters to cupid
Tom Leveille Feb 2014
whenever i hear a wind chime i think of your voice. i wonder what it's like to be your bedsheets. what it would really be like to understand the jargon in your head. i ******* want to kiss you sometimes and then others i really do want concrete between your hands & my skin. i can't think straight all the time so i wonder if it benefits me at all to explain what it means that i don't want or expect anything from you but if we accidentally liked eachother in that middle school "sort of way" then i wouldn't say no. i want to really understand what you mean when you say "stay" to me in our texts. i wonder if your sleeping pills do to you what they do to me. i'm thinking again about "stay" and maybe i'm choked up on you leaving for school up north but i'll never tell you because get the **** out of here and don't look back especially not for me. stay. your smile, genuine or not tears me in two. i wish every face on the planet had your smile and i am ******* afraid of you wearing lipstick. i'm terrified of your bare skin and goodbyes. i hate farewells and see you laters. i knew the first time i saw you interact on your phone while drinking coffee the way you text people and how i now do the same thing. i get around read receipts. i sometimes want to hear you say you want.. not so much me, maybe me, but my company. theres a park near my house where i've imagined us paddle boating. i got written up at work once for daydreaming about it. what the **** is in a friendship anyway, decency in a human isn't biological. i get hung up on knee jerks and gut reactions. i want to know what the ******* are thinking about when i look up and you are looking right at me. but then again, i don't. as long as i'm wondering. as long as the door might swing open or closed. stay. go. run. **** your collarbones. **** your chest and skin and lips and everything i hate but crave and might like about you without say so. stay. sit down and explain to me why it is that i care anyway. i am afraid that if i say i want to *******, you'll think i mean *******, and not "*******". i wanna know if any of this sounds familiar and i here i am back to wondering what the **** is going on and why you're looking at me. the hair on my neck stands on end when you do and another thing... **** poetry. i cloud my feelings for you & anything else with the abstract so you'll never really know if i ******* hit rock bottom or not over the fact that i know we will never kiss. somebody just said "**** buddy" on tv and i think sometimes symmetry between irony & circumstance. i have harbored some of these thoughts since the night you said hello to me. i'm sorry i had to get over the fact that once upon a time i wanted to save somebody, and you weren't going to let it be you. i do sometimes think my hands might break you, that you spend your day painting a picket fence in your head that you can't get on one side or the other on. i felt like you didn't want to get up from dinner and i rushed it out the door because i am afraid to start a sentence with so. so stay. i am sorry my words often wear brass knuckles. your smile shoots to **** and if i ever die while you still remember my name i want you to read this or read something at my funeral. i don't know if these butterflies are waiting for me to jump or sit down but they speak up when my phone lights up & it's you.
Tom Leveille Feb 2014
you are inches
measured by miles away
bulldozing oriental food
you don't intend on eating
around your plate
and i am imagining
the translation of asking
for a broom in a foreign language
for when you shatter over small talk
or the first sentence to start with "so"
breaks you into shaking
that i can feel from across the table
and i am thinking now
about tectonics and how you must be daydreaming of being submerged in a book
back home or gripping tightly
to bedsheets begging for familiar warmth
i can tell by the way you are looking at me
that you are feigning our salutation embrace
seconds drowned in ankle deep water and i wonder if you see my hands
as jackhammers and if the reason
why you hug so hard
but only for a moment
is to be as sharp as possible
so that i do not smell your perfume
or notice that you aren't wearing any and why
there are few suprises
in the safe you claim is a mouth
where shades of plush pink
hide a sickly pallor
and i continue to look over
brick & mortar borders
and think how maybe
she is thinking of kissing
but certainly not me
not these apologies nailed to my face
i give myself a moment
of benefitted doubt that you sometimes
picture your frame under mine
and if your clavicles would crack
if i were to touch them
i am sorry that i am a victim of imagination
but i swear i chalk it up
as the forgotten feeling
for when you look up
and the person you are looking
at is gazing directly at you
you have painted yourself
as a mosaic in my mind
as a mess of dust & incoherent words
that all sound like please in my ears
but that doesn't explain why
my hands are the ones that are shaking
when i imagine you
imagining me
in the spaces of yourself
where you've forgotten
you could put someone
Feb 2014 · 5.8k
again
Tom Leveille Feb 2014
you see
i had always felt
that in a dream
i was the absence
of the dream
and then it dawned on me
that i was in a time piece
trapped during forgotten hours
where everything is alien
but vaguely familiar
the beach beneath me wandering
off to anywhere but here
and i straddle the shoreline
palming stray shards of sea glass
always the color of her eyes
and i am abruptly upside down
an upheaval, a maw
where i thought it as
a nightly revenge
for skipping stones
and again i am upended
& back on the beach
born of broken hourglasses
and it makes me think
that god likes to watch things leave me
Feb 2014 · 7.7k
bars in your hometown
Tom Leveille Feb 2014
so i get this idea sometimes
that you enjoy being coy
when it comes to me
to conjure momentary spectacle
& make me wonder
if you paint catharsis
on the doors of a home
you've never lived in
as a memory of our first night together
because i do, i remember you
beaming white on blue
speaking softer than any storm
i ever knew, i often think that maybe
you live that night in your mind
when your pillow is cold
& you can't sleep, it makes me wonder
if you do as i do, and rewrite three years fictionally beginning with a kiss somewhere
maybe a balcony or a quiet car
on the sand or in a sunlit grove close to your home but always a familiar scar on the maps we know we know by heart
i wonder if sometimes
the idea of me loving you is too real
and if it teems under your tongue
to stay observant but distantly intrigued
if by this distance you think it safe
to get a dog and pass time
on the couch with a journal & some wine
what i really wanna know is if your fingernails ever wish to have my skin under them
or if they would boast
about winning a war with my headboard
i wonder if you can imagine me
meeting your parents in your apartment & shaking your fathers hand
as a first of many calloused palm readings
and if you know that i trembled before them
how insignificant i had felt
to not know their daughter
in the way i had envisioned
how i picture such poignant moments
so tangibly sharp that sometimes
i replace  my memories with little stories
i tell myself that i can't count on two hands
the number of times i've seen you
& that i don't feel like a crater
when i recollect our collisions
i want to know if you still find madness
in the words that have always been about you
i wanna know if your imagination of me
looks more like an anniversary or an obituary
Jan 2014 · 6.3k
post heat stroke hands
Tom Leveille Jan 2014
i imagine pulling over at a canyon
seeing the day they took all the pictures
off the wall when she died
i stop for a picnic on a scar
from getting too close to the junk
but you made it and making it is all that matters
i see the ends of your hands
as 15th century cartography talks to the hierarch
a promise of platitudes
flat and lacking grandeur
how on that plane it knows
when you turn them over
like pages of a book
and secrets pour out
they don't tremble like they used to
haven't had an earthquake in years
not even a tremor
not even happenstance could stop me
from gawking at the pile up on 64
how outwardly looking
in you don't look like a "wreck"
your hands remind me more
of a car crash without the quotation marks
Tom Leveille Jan 2014
can you explain
what it means
to despise someone?
to frame hate
and hang it on your wall
to count the number of days
lost sleep in your coffee mug
with the aforementioned's
name expensively embroidered on it
an old feud, laid in skin
and memories
so long you no longer remember
what the original sin was
only the feeling endures
an anticlimax
that you could go on
and on for hours about
without rest
so much pathos
teeming under the surface
that you could erupt
in volcanic tantrums
at the sound of a name
the way you clench your fists
until your fingers bite blood
from your palms
over street signs that bring up
old memories
the way you dream
of burning chairs
you heard they sat in
you find solace in the fact
that you are conscious
of this pervasive madness
that you are not tired of
and never will be
Jan 2014 · 5.7k
traitor
Tom Leveille Jan 2014
your face went on every
milk carton in my dreams
when you went missing
& i listened to a song
about how the churches
in your hometown
were built from the martyred mahogany
of shipwrecks
i dare you
to think i can't rip
the very mood
from your temperate fingertips
when i am cold
and hell bent
on seeing you oceans away, wince
this is not an
"i saw this coming all along" poem
or a "i still wonder about the moments between breaths when your phone lights up" poem..
this is a will & a way
with brass knuckles
maybe a barehanded bludgeon
but i swear i'm trying
to sleep at night
without wondering how cold
it is in your bed.
so mother goose
tell me about
the whispered prayers
crammed into the earthquakes
you call hands
about an ennui
that speaks to me.
Oct 2013 · 6.3k
the cartographer
Tom Leveille Oct 2013
a desire to know
every muscle
governing the movements
in your face
that bring smile
from lapsed synapse
explodes from my meridians
with your name
on the lips of every
captain to my ships
in hopes that my tired thoughts
could find a home
in a harbor not far from your heart

— The End —