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Sometimes,
I think my conversations with You
pick up
when I put down the pen.
Other times,
I think You only communicate
through spitballs and passed notes.
I squiggle tick boxes
on college ruled lines to check
“yes” or “no,”
but You always end up eating the answer
when the Teacher is in ear shot because
sound carries faster than my sideway glances.
You say Your notes
are too loud for me to copy off of,
but I still can’t hear Your message
when we’re playing telephone at recess.
You avoided me on
the playground in grade school,
the hallways in junior high and
the cafeteria in high school,
so You can imagine my shock
when You asked to move into a one bedroom
with me in a concrete jungle gym
several miles away after graduation.
I have a four-year lease for this new place of mine
and You used to have a tendency to not stick around
when I needed You there the most,
but here You are now,
waiting patiently on the couch
holding two cups of coffee every morning
and two cups of wine every night.
You have left me with questions
that my tuition can’t cover and
that rent can’t afford,
so please understand that when I kick You out,
it’s not because You ate my groceries
or didn’t clean the bathroom;
it’s because the mess You made
for my parents to clean up
was too big to incorporate
in the chore list I left behind
when I used to live in blanket forts.
This is all hindsight,
but my vision gets checked annually
and optometrists say I’m going to be blind by thirty
if I keep wearing my contacts
during Marco Polo.
I keep telling them it’s impossible
to match where the sound
of Your voice is coming from,
so I keep my eyes shut
and my arms stretched out wide before me
to feel for Your presence.
They say that
keeping my eyes closed for too long isn’t safe
and that I should invest in glasses,
but my insurance doesn’t cover
another lens between Us
and I can’t afford to be separated
from You any longer.
Maybe someday,
You will gargle up all those
chewed up love notes
and questions
and I’ll find them below my tax returns.
Maybe someday,
You will pay me back
with more
than just a book fine.
Maybe someday,
I won’t need your change
to feel like
I’m worth something.
But, for now, I wait patiently,
writing with a pen
that ran out of ink
since the day You gave me hope
with a hushed
*“maybe.”
This is what it feels like
on the days that feel like
lonely summer nights without you.

I wake groggily to the rays of light
seeping through your cupped hands
that play peek-a-boo with my broken windowsill.
The wind exhales chills down my spine
that inhale me to into the mattress
until midafternoon
when I can finally gasp for a drink.
When I’ve had my fill of toxins,
I can poison people in the hallways of my complex
with venomous small talk that produces
half glazed stare simplicity.
You know the one I’m talking about;
the kind of look that hangs on people
thinking about what to say
while you’re going on about
some nonsense you heard at
some place from
some pretty person.
They have a certain finish over their attention
that doesn’t quite compare to the varnish of your absence.

This is what it feels like
when summer rolls over the hills
like the ongoing thread of my oversized sweaters
on seventy-degree days
because I was always a little too good
at playing hide and seek growing up.

I feel like I get stuck in a loop sometimes.

I heard
somewhere from
some pretty person that
children don’t see scars on adults
because those people
never quite make it past getting their GED,
but here I am as an undergraduate student
mocking what little authority is left over my existence.
At the age of nineteen,
I understand that solitude is the most fulfilling companionship
I will ever browse for,
but I’ll never be able to buy us matching necklaces
at self checkout.

This is what it feels like
to cry in the middle of the day
when you haven’t paid the water bill in two months.
When I put my clothes on,
you aren’t there to watch me leave anymore
and I can’t turn around to grab your neck
and mount you again.
My lips started parting for a cigarette
when I was sixteen
and started parting for you
when I was eighteen
and now they are parting for a finger gun
aimed at the back of my throat after a meal.

I feel like I get stuck in a loop sometimes.

I heard
somewhere from
some pretty person that
I needed to be a size zero
to wrap my legs around you
and still be able to leave some room
for your opposition
when I’ve drank too much whiskey
on a Wednesday night,
but here I am as a size six
and I’m happily tipsy off your rejection
when I’m sober.

This is what it feels like
to exist off of your own
self-destruction.
Put a child lock
on the liquor cabinets,
and fasten me
to your kitchen sink.

Watch me drift slowly down the drain.

Watch shattered wine glass
stick between fragments of me
in the garbage disposal blades.

Watch broken sentences
arch over our faulty plumbing lines.

Watch pieces of you stick strictly to silver spoons.

Take the skin of your Cuban
and roll a noose around my neck
to yank the blaze from my throat
into the bile of my slip-ups
that pool on the kitchen floor
from an unattached pipe
that just can’t seem to keep
her pretty little mouth shut.

******* my thoughts from behind
and throw plates at the walls
of my shoulder blades
when you need to hear the question again
because it doesn’t matter what she thinks
if her face is nothing but
a cracked serving platter.

Force your hands
onto the authority of my hipbones.

Pierce your wedding ring
through my belly button for safekeeping.

Decorate my body
with super glue
so your words can stick to me.

Sort me in
with the pots and pans
so your voice
doesn’t have to clang against
my eardrums anymore.

Reorganize me
again and again
until you can’t wash the stain
out of my bottom lip anymore.

Pour me a drink
while I drip Taps into the sink
because when I realize
water isn’t strong enough
to make me forget how blood
runs so much thicker over my skin,
tears begin to slip so easily off my eyelashes.

Let my death
be a pail
brimmed with ex-lovers’
cries for attention.

Let me kick the bucket
this time
when they begin to drown out
the sound of my own.

Let me be a reminder
that not all channels
you lose yourself down
have to be man made.
I want to be
wrapped in your arms
how the tree's branches
intermingle with the wind;
how the peaks of the hills
tumble over
one another's shadow at dusk;
how mist clings to dew
on grass wisps
whistling a good morning tune
back to the roosters' song at dawn,
the silent clap of two hearts
high-fiving
amidst the storm's handshake
with forest fingertips,
complimenting eyelash bats
and butterfly kisses
under the Moon's pupil;
how the stars trip
over their two left feet
and come crashing down
into your atmosphere
intertwined with mine.
I can sleep with you,
but I can’t be asleep with you.
I can drive you mad
bent over the headboard
of your expectations,
but I can’t meet them.
What you are looking for
does not hide between my legs
panting for salvation;
it hides trembling in the bend of an elbow,
tucked away in tracks that mark the spot.
Treasure coves lie in the hollowness
of my sunken eyes
and under the thickness
of my bitten tongue
until the only thing I can taste is
the bitterness of my laughter
like a hangover
from too much sweet talk the night before.
Some nights,
the holes in our conversations
"with the lights on"
leave me crucified between
two lines I should have never crossed to begin with.
Other nights,
I am stretched out across the entire room
and your eyes touch nothing
but the bathroom floor we grouted together
with our spines.
The backbone for this poem
isn’t your unattached vertebrate,
but the committed soft spot
behind my promising kneecaps
that give out each time
you ask me
when I’m coming to bed
because a mattress
may be the sole platform for this love,
but your sheets
can’t cover the indifference in my touch.
Feet are the best place to look in a crowd
because,
even if they aren’t painted,
toenails offer a reflective surface
that reassures our presence,
no matter the floor we walk on.
I look down so often
that I forget I have that identical shell
on my fingers too.
They shine the sun in your eyes
when I blindly fix my hair behind my ear.
I know it disgusts you,
but I bite away,
in fact,
I chew that casing away
from my forgiving palms
and tuck them safely in my nail beds
where I drip bedtime stories from my gums
like a blanket fort of crimson comfort.
My stories get so crusted
on the nights when
you’re not here
that scar tissue
becomes less than something I blow my nose with.
I long for you
to tell me your stories
and let them faint into my wrists
so then I can carry your pulse
through my veins and feel alive again.
Let your heartbeat
guide my wandering hands
down your ventricles
and let me be the reason you stir at night.
Let me shake your bones
until the birds trapped in your rib cage
start singing again.
Let me be the cool tongue that
laps your broken heart back together.
Let me be something more than debris
hanging loosely from flesh,
but less than a bomb nestled
between the hollowness in your skull.
I hope you look down
and feel the weight of my lips from last night’s goodbye
pressed against your forehead
and realize
no matter how lost you get
in a swarm of shoes,
you’ll always have my bare feet
next to yours.
You are the sun and you are the moon;
I hold you to the highest regard
at every wake and at every sleep.
I miss you on the days I don’t rise,
but you always rise,
regardless of the weather.
I solely like rain.
I like the way your condensation
pours over me
when we are in between the sheets,
the madness of the storm between your pelvis,
thrusting thunder and lightning bolts into my bones
and I’m ignited with the blaze
you course through my body.
Your touch leaves me with
burn marks
trailing my thighs
to follow back into the bed
where we lay together
and it reminds me
I need the rain to so desperately put me out
when you set over the hills
and run away from me again.
You’re so different at night.
You’re cool and quiet, but you’re so cool.
You have the stars
and the comets
and the constellations
and the Milky Way,
but you choose my terrestrial body
every single time
you come out.
You remove clouds
and whisper through the stillness in the sunset
to bask in your luminescence with you,
just one more time,
the last time,
tonight.
With a sliver under my nose and above my chin,
I watch
the stars dance on you,
the comets open their legs for you,
the constellations bend over for you,
the Milky Way wrap her arms around you,
but you,
you are a constant and never move.
We hold our stare like the lights will go out
and I stand in the moon light with you
just to cringe in the sun with you
the next day
and the next day
and the next day
and the next day.
And we do this
and I keep a part of you
hanging on my lips,
the crescent that never fades.

— The End —