May 28 Alex Greenwell
digest to understand,
then shelf it.
I once read my father's
suicide note --
thank god it remains only a draft.
it's weird touching my skin
knowing I was one pill,
one bullet to head, one tight knot away
from ever existing.
i'm not quite sure which one
it would have been,
as I never intend to ask;
I will leave that to my imagination
(something i've learned he cannot be released from)
I am the daughter of a man
who is tired and afraid of
the voices in his head;
and every day I pray
I am louder.
my dad is schizophrenic
your eyes seem to carry volumes.
deep set inside your sockets, flecked
with fire-light shadows and deep red ocre.

some would see this and think of romance.
your breath traveling against my chin and warming my jawline with humidity. a moaning similar
to the shriek of jungle birds and hoots of primates.

they would see your hand grabbing at my side, and see morning glory vines. your fingertips flashing bright orange similar to honeysuckle.
do you think they see the bruises?

I wonder just how often you weave your love poems into your teeth
when you bite into me.
when you take my flesh into yourself and devour my peace
like a cut from sweet, fruity flesh.
does my submission satisfy you?

or do you have these wild nights with the others?
do you go
out on streets and flash your smile?
do you let your fingers drip down sweet flesh laced with salt and lime juice?
do they open up to you more
or do you take their silence as
invitation as well?

from the first moment your
geode lips scrape against my body,
until I am filled with a satisfaction
all your own.
I count three-hundred-and-thirty
and during that time the cosmos breath,

and the stars continue to whisper
The smell of bleach is overwhelming,
but my mother always liked the smell.
She would mix bleach with a splash of lemon and the smell of sickly citrus would
drift through the house.
She would spend hours on the floor, scrubbing
each baseboard and kitchen tile.
Each swish of the mop would bring my mother
closer to God.
But for me, the fumes seemed to shake my mind and cause each ridge in my brain
to sweat.
My head succumbing to the pressure of finding my home
like some hospital.

Bleach burns. Once I let my hand slip into that lemon-scented pail,
feeling the itch rise up my wrist.
It felt similar to the Holy Spirit rising through my
chest during each Sunday service.
An antiseptic,
a decontaminate, something that desensitized and purified.
So, I began to rub my hands, with a spiritual fever,
letting my skin flake from each coat of
lemon-scented cleanliness.
But somehow, I never felt clean enough.

I never felt sanctified.
I like to think that I’m dangerous. That I’m powerful enough to be feared - that my kindness is a gift for others - that if I chose, I could bury those around me in rubble.

But oftentimes, I feel like I’m more of a danger to myself than others. My thoughts being hiccups of interrupting fear. Each thought surfacing from some malicious screen-writer - is it my own voice or a more malignant author that has become an unearthly tenant. A priestly follower with intimate knowledge of my doubts. I suppose this could be some kind of a final confession.
I imagined fireflies swaying through my stomach the first time we met. These little living lights tumbling through my organs and illuminating my bones. The idea that I had this glowing light inside made me feel much calmer.

That was the first time. The night seemed perfect enough yet drawn out on a track that I had no control over. But for some reason I enjoyed it. Letting little fireflies take the lead instead of whatever things run inside my head. The perfection was comfortable but didn't leave me holding my breath.

When I tell secrets I feel sick. Nauseous and full of air that seems to tickle my spine and inflate my mind. I begin worrying about serious, unrealistic things.

The second time we met, I imagined my arms covered by spider webs. Thin candy floss of silk threads, attached far away to the horizon. I made sure to stay subdued, because I knew without these strings I would run to you and stay. I knew I would touch, and grab, and rub, and shake. I knew I would find myself entangled in much more complicated things then a spider's webs.

I feel pathetic wondering what to text. I feel homely wanting to see you, to let my fingers trail through your hair and feel you tense (I know how much you hate people touching your hair, but you still let me) and then relax like a cog on a gear dying down. I feel worried knowing just where you would place your hand on my chest and just how your fingers would wander.

I imagine myself covered in insects and creepy crawling things because such creatures don't seem like lovers of romance. I try to pretend that neither are we.

Although it seems to sting.
Sometimes it makes me want to choke. When I see girls in yellow sweaters and boys with aviator glasses feeling love under a fluorescent gas station light. When I see hangnails on holding hands, and when I see chipped-tooth smiles. It makes me wonder if I’ll ever feel something for anyone around me. I feel a connection with all these people who float around, yet I can never get attached. I can never make myself feel anything more than mediocre delight in knowing a person.

I see these couples who are revolving around one another like the cosmos and I am left buzzing around their romance like gnats around a bug-zapper. All I hear are electric vibrations that get louder the closer I get, and I wonder how far I can go without killing myself.
I find myself wishing for your lips touched with the scent of honey and anise - flavored with sweet citrus and worn laugh-lines. There are times when I feel snow settle across my cheeks that I remember how it felt when I gripped your thigh and let each finger slide and tumble across your skin. It seemed tender and soft, but never in my life have I felt so desperate. Your lips gliding down my neck, following my arteries that seemed to wrap and wind like the smoky smell of cinnamon. Eyes closed, but all seeing, even without sight we found our way along one another's topography. Your wrist ice and cool slate. Your back red and weeping, bruised red and purple like stone-fruit. I still find myself brushing off the trails left by your quivering fingertips as they slid down my sides, your chin resting across my shoulder and your leg intertwined with mine. Sheets scattered and spread like drops splattered by rain-boots in fresh puddles. Heart beating like the flutter of an eyelash being blown by a finger-tip wish. Blood pumping like shady sunlight scraping across a tiled back porch, snapping against arched feet hoping to reach cool, summer grass - freshly cut.

I find myself wishing for these moments, yet the call of phones ringing and the gargle of co-workers commenting on the boringly interesting, coupled by coffee breaks and water-cooler talk. It brings me back to where I am now. Post-it notes and paperclip reality.
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