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CZ Nov 2019
Your love,
part street light, part motion sensor,
nothing but flicker and static
when I look closely.

you feel me out
like the heartbeat in your wrist,
half-touch, half-absence,
steady-drum shadow love,
have kissed you a million times without leaving
a single trace.

couldn’t be half-love
couldn’t be between your love
couldn’t stand and look in-love
couldn’t dim and go out love

ten years, ****** up, did it wrong love,
ten years, miss your hands, gave you up love
ten years, swiped right with no emotion love,  

ten years, and here’s the truth, love:
love burns steady between my hands,
and you, caught up in her love, are my love.

pretend to be drunk, pretend to be unsure,
look me in my eyes, love:

I did not flicker even once.
For you. You know that it is all for you.
CZ Jun 2015
Trying to love other people begins to exhaust me
the third time I walk into the ring wanting a knock-out
and find two people cowering in opposite corners

with their gloves on.

Next time,
I will come to you bare knuckled.

we will pretend to circle each other
              pretend to

I want to love you without having to admit it.

                                spar kick punch

You never look better than when you've got blood smeared
over your front teeth, stringy curls in your eyes,
and bruised knuckles pressed to the cut above your lips

Next time,
I won't hand write it first.

Medical school and boxing are the same thing:
a desperate swing when you're back into a corner
roads and rivers and highways
                                                      I want to love you without getting hurt.
away from                                                             me.

Before the match is over:
seven years and I still dream of the single moment before
                                                                                          you kiss me
a bloodied hand in my hair, a stethoscope cold against my chest,
our boxing gloves hung up side by side in the closet.

                                                  and the Winner.
CZ Apr 2015
you will write yourself empty
with talk of sieve hands and sifting hearts
and you will write yourself selfish
before anyone teaches you the definition of the word.

poetry is as good a punching bag as anything else
and you don't have to be lonely to come back here
but it's been months and I haven't been able to write anything worth reading that didn't begin with, "I."

here is my hand-me down hymn,
my rebel yell my soft and quiet
my church floor my vaulted ceilings
my elegy my aubade my fear--

I send quarter notes stumbling
when I'm not careful.

there have been poems I wish I could write:
my mom's hands like cracked mosaics,
my unforgiving, weak winter skin,
my sister's sharp wolf heart
my dad's icicle fingers melting
an entire four seasons spent
searching for words under rocks
the teeth of my fear shredding
the meat of this poem.

it has been a year,
and I don't worry anymore.

the quiet, craggy shape of my fear
will stretch itself out in the sun
when it's time.

until then,

tell them I'm home
tell the commas to come in
tell the exclamation points to vacate their tree
tell the question marks that now isn't the time for questioning--

tell the words I'm home.
Not sure if I like it, but it felt good to write poetry again.
CZ Sep 2013
You aren't going to **** yourself tonight because, in one of the

spun sugar fragile sequences of the events in your life, it works

out. There is a place, somewhere amidst star stuff and cosmic

collisions, where you are not the problem daughter or the

biggest disappointment or the most regretted kiss. There is a

place where you sink into a desk in your eight a.m. class and

a boy with bags under his eyes and a hole-y sweater pulled

over his knuckles says, "hi." There is a place where your father

comes back from the war with sand grit in his eyes, blood

under his fingernails and lets you save him.  There is a place

where you live in India, where you aren't afraid to love, where

everything hurts less, where you stopped punishing yourself for

the faults of your parents. You are a girl. Not a dart board or a guilty

verdict or the final, desperate ****** of a sword through

someone's chest. You are made of the same stuff as Marie

Antoinette and Catherine the Great and Elizabeth, and you

can command the winds too. You aren't going to **** yourself

tonight because no one ever asked you about the scars on your

thighs but that doesn't make them nonexistent or unimportant.

You aren't going to **** yourself tonight because you've grown:

stronger in some ways and weaker in others, but you are still

a result of rhapsodies in violet and trees bowed to the sea

and soldiers with wind burn on their cheeks. Tonight, you are

going to wrap your own arms around your own chest and

breathe, swaying silently to no music. You are going to

memorize the sound of silence, and you are going to listen hard

for the even, jagged, pitter patter of your heart. You are going

to thank your body for waging war against itself, you are going

to apologize to your head for bruising your heart. You are going

to feel the roughness of the floor and the vastness of the entire

world and all of the eventualities spread before you. You are

going to remember that this is only one, that atoms and

molecules are flighty, whimsical, prone to selfishness and

longing for the promise of stability. You are going to press your

lips to your own wrists and know, as surely as Anne Boleyn

knew when she walked to the guillotine, that no one can save

you but yourself. You aren't going to **** yourself tonight

because you are not an accident of the multiverse. You are

purposeful and beautiful and young and reckless with your

feelings, but you are not a mistake. Listen to the trembling

of your heartbeat and breathe. You aren't going to **** yourself

CZ Apr 2013
You are not broken, but all of the boys who
want a fixer upper find you.
They mistake their hips for hammers,
and their kisses for nails.
Their fingers, cold and impersonal,
as much hoping for a crack as
they are making them,
find the nooks and crannies,
and press caulk into them.
Shine them with whispers meant to
bring back the natural glow of a healthy woman.
They balance their hips on yours,
like that yellow bar on the mantlepiece,
is the wood straight?
is the construction sound?

No, they whisper, no it's all wrong.

Back to the drawing board, then.
This time, they'll build you right,
they promise.
Sand down all of the splintered places
where the last boys hands gave out before
your corners were womanly curves.
Dip your eyelashes into fresh black paint,
watch it drip onto your cheek
and leave it.

Watch it drip down your neck
and paint over it.

They don't believe in luck,
so they fit the curve of your hips to theirs,
not meant to be, not yet,
but you will be.
Their hands, coarse and broad,
turn your bitten, smudged lips
into things straight from a *****:
open and lush and
beg me, baby.

So you do.

You use all of the words he put into your mouth like rocks:
all honey and sweetie cakes and let me love you.
They broke your teeth going down, but
they taste like the sting of a slap coming back up.
You use all of the soft places that he made on your body:
let him fill them with caulk until they are unrecognizable,
until you, too, are unrecognizable.
You show him the constellation of scars across your shoulders:
whisper do you love me now? with your hand prints wide
across my spine, the sting of your sander against my waist.
You teach him about desire
with open legs
and open lips
and the tattoo of his touches on your body.

You teach him about sadness with sharp,
corners that are shoulder blades.
He doesn't recognize those, asks himself
if he missed a spot,
so you show him your splintered teeth
broken back
burned thighs,
ask him if he wants to try again.

Don't wait for an answer.

— The End —