Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Jane Doe Apr 12
You come in dreams.
Dark neon with a purpleblack sky,
surreal and tropical.
People with the heads of animals
dancing a slow-motion conga in the street.

Crooked dream logic
through which we walk side by side.

The cobblestones and alleys I invented.
We walk past buildings painted pink
painted dark by my purpleblack dream night.

Cuba perhaps, but I’ve never been there.
The sea is full of swimmers and sharks and sideways waves.

You cry and say you are not alright.
I clasp you to me.

In another we paint a teacup with colored birds
under blooms and blooms and magnolias.

Always touching:
rubbing your cheek on mine,
your hand on mine,
your wet kisses -
I wake and feel their dampness still

burning a crater in me.

I wake up sweating with the ghost of your touch.
My mind puts your hands on my body

and I feel them linger still.
Jane Doe Oct 2018
The starlings rising from the fields,
white sky and bare trees that are almost purple
from a distance.

A certain tint in the light,
sad in the way a happy memory
can be sad.

Have I fed your ghost because
it makes me feel deep and depleted,

the way starlings and November
fields make me feel?
A peek at the mystery;
alive in that melancholy.
Are things that are beautiful to me
always sad?

Is that why I built a museum for my
love of you?
Framed my evidence in gold
and set the times we’ve touched
under plexiglass?

A personal history,
a relic to marvel.

In museums you can live in your head.
Love is easy because
symbols mean something.

I press my lips to the print of yours
on the glass you left at my table,
while my husband sits in the other room.

Birds rise from the fields,
my soul feels far away.
Jane Doe Sep 2018
One drink wakes it in me –
the reckless storm that ignites in my belly
and spread to my head,
my chest.


I issue an evacuation order for myself –
a hurricane of stillness gathers on the horizon,
pack a bag and go.

Leave everything you don’t need behind.

Your job –
you’ve always gotten another.

Your home –
you’ve always gotten another.

Your love –
you know you love another.

Everything is undoable,
transit is safety, movement is comfort
stasis is death.
Plastic bags dragged into your throat.
***** water rising in the basement.


Before you’re too old,
before the cement dries,
wipe it off.

Two drinks crumble it in me –
the recklessness becomes hopelessness.
I’m so tired.
I am sandbags;
heavy, full, put up to weather the storm.
I couldn’t go if I tried.

Heaped on a beach and the water is rising.
Jane Doe Aug 2018
His thin shoulders,
Dutch nose

the hair at his temples is grayer than when we met
five years ago.

Something I can’t quite put my finger on.

My love for him
is a ships in the night love.
We circle, cutting separate pathways through
a vast ocean, on course for something


that keeps us signaling
onward, onward.

We look to the past privately but do not
speak of it.

The times our bodies touched.

I count them (I think he also does.)

One: the way I used to graze his arm with my hand
Two: an accident, swaying with music, too close
Three: drunk with the courage to kiss one another
Four: sweat, bed, the sun rose and I held his hand at the door
Five: years later, a hug that lingered,

the times we are allowed to touch one another,
hellos and goodbyes, in cars and trains.
We continue to pass one another.

And when we talk, we talk
and laugh and I feel a churning of waters,
a warm ocean swell that says: this is it!
Hold this.

The tide runs out,
Ships press forward on prescribed routes
through blind oceans.
Jane Doe Jun 2018
I haven’t shed him like I should have,
an undercoat that I didn’t need.
Too hot on my belly, stifling
and dangerous.
Heavy layers that take on water –
if they get wet they could pull me under.

I should have shed him like a snakeskin.
It’s wrapped around my throat, taut over my
thighs, my *******, my eyes.
It aches familiar, a size too small.
I’m wrapped in it like chicken meat – sterile,  
unable to grow.

His heart is a rejected *****.
It looked plump and pink but it didn’t fit.
His organs and my organs pressed together,
Hair, bone and skin, but the sepsis had set in.
Now it lives in my throat,
a bile I can taste but I can’t throw up.

I offend myself with my desire.
This tether, woven by my own fingers  
going over and over the same patterns.
His mouth, my mouth, the words we say
are not magic, not a promise
but a sarcophagus.
Jane Doe Apr 2018
I know the names of all the birds
in your language and my own.
If I tell them to you –
is that enough?

That would not be enough.
My life’s careful machine would have to
be halted – parts would have to
be removed and replaced.
The cost would be enormous.

I know where to find ancient things
buried in the earth.
Coins, broken pieces, bits of pottery.
Is that enough?

That would not be enough.
I cannot take your jewelry
for my fingers – I must not study
your artifacts, those broken pieces.  
Some things must stay below the dirt.

I know where the jackdaws roost
in the quiet bell-tower of a village church.
If I take you there –
is that enough?

That would not be enough.
We could never stand by that
gentle river, in that village
with the old stone church. If I went there
with you I would never leave.

What if you never left?
We would undo all of our choices,
We could run the river backwards,
is that enough?

That would not be enough.
We will stay buried like bits of pottery,
silent as bells in an empty church.  
Jackdaws returning to roost,
remaining in patterns they don’t understand.
Jane Doe Dec 2017
He’s gone again, a plane to India.
The North Sea foams cold, its current
pushes him always away, he goes
I stay and think of him, the woman
he could know - is he alone?
He only feels in love when riding trains.

We last parted frantic, running for trains,
promising let’s meet again, after India.
The doors slide closed, and then I was alone
in the wake of his train’s current,
cursing myself for being the woman
who hang her hopes on a man who goes.

But sometimes I’m the one who goes.
To foreign countries I too have ridden trains.
I’ve played the role of Independent Woman
(although the North Sea was closer than India)
I still fear I lost him in its current.
We kissed goodbye then walked home alone.

Has he counted the nights that he’s spent alone?
Turning over and over – when sleep comes and goes
does memory flow in a deluge, churning current
of possibility lost or missed like trains?
Is he dreaming now, sweating on a bus in India
in all the noise, is he missing a woman?

He told me he cannot find a woman
he can talk to, so he is alone.
It’s adventure he lusts for, it’s India.
It’s only the act of going he loves, so he goes.
But I'd fill the seat beside him on trains
if I could give myself away to his current.

Time rolled over us in its driving current,
now I, always a sentimental woman,
imagine him when I’m riding trains;
remember him when I’m sleeping alone.
I cannot shed my life to go where he goes.
But I count the miles - the North Sea to India.
Next page