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May 2016 · 275
second dam to the right
Em Glass May 2016
dodging shards of terra cotta
on the ground and
shards of croaksong in the
air we crouch at the bank, half
way there, and the frogs vault
over the tops of our sneakers.
we are
scaring chipmunks and hiding
from snakes, balancing
on the pipeline with our arms raised
out like birds about to take flight.
at the reservoir people are
jumping from on high, grabbing
at stars on the way down.
when they land the cold
pries open their fists
and they surface shaking and
full of nothingness.
someone tosses an empty
can of keystone into the water,
stumble-swims away from it.
it spills over one dam and
glides toward the next,
a girl flinches from a rock
like a moth from a swat
and pulls the can to the crags, they
both rest there breathing heavy.
they both dry off.
she pulls on her clothes and
pulls herself home
in a flurry of forgot.
as more kids jump,
more stars fall from their hands
until the can is full
of a hope too heavy
to drag home.
May 2016 · 214
angel of tears
Em Glass May 2016
holding everybody in arms
of a bowl to catch
what we cry.
Turning the saltwater into oceans,
mirrors still enough that we
can see, watch ourselves try.
And for those who like waves she
pulls at the tides,
rough hands smoothing the sand,
and when she thinks she can't
get it right she consults the moon,
watching and learning till she's
ready to teach.
And for those of us who don't
like the beach,
she holds her hands out to us
with palms up, lifting the salt
away and the water up,
sending our tears
to the sky to rain down on us,
fresh and quiet
every one.
she's saving us all, one by one
Apr 2016 · 126
with eyes
Em Glass Apr 2016
You coil in the doorway
and look at me
with eyes
a snake just sits
and looks at me
until I am afraid of it.
Apr 2016 · 256
god only knows
Em Glass Apr 2016
but the inflection of the human voice
saying God only knows,
she doesn't say it like God
is the only one
who knows;
not: God, only, knows,
but God only
She knows and says nothing.
God is not one to kiss
and tell.
She keeps some things
to Herself, doesn't share everything
with me. Think
how sad a couple of souls
would be if truly
one, grown
so together that they are
once again alone.
God only knows
what I'd do without you;
nothing more.
no one can tell me, so I'll wait
Mar 2016 · 361
a catered event
Em Glass Mar 2016
the sun is setting in slant
through the window, outlining
everyone in gold thread

there’s loud music and
laughter and RESERVED
tables full of people eating and
laughing like they’re at any tables
at all

at the end the music is still
and the sun is still slanting its way
down but the rainbow flag is draped
over the dusty piano to free up her hands
so she can clean other things. everything
is tidied up, things gathered, minimizing
space taken

the stickers, the flags
of all combinations of colored stripes,
pink and blue and purple sunsets,
prism rainbows, the black table cloth
stretched out below the window
as two people fold the sunlight into it,
packing it away. name tags
are peeled off shirts. In the end,

they leave with a whole
foods canvas bag full of things
that could be anything,
ready to blend back
into everything else.

the sun ducks behind a mountain
on the horizon and the sky purples,
bruised by indifference. the sun ducks
behind a mountain on the horizon and
no one is outlined anymore.
Mar 2016 · 311
for the study of stars
Em Glass Mar 2016
There are two ways to fall
in love with the stars.
Each begins with a child on her back,
asphalt and grass,
looking up.

Each begins with a reaching.

There are two ways to fall
in love with the stars. Each begins
with a feeling of light that is cold,
of the glow of afar, of nothing
but the magnetic math
of the vacuum between here

and there.

Each begins with finding
light in dark.

She can at this point grab the tail
of her hope in a telescope,
wonder at the whole mirrored mess,
open her aperture as wide as her heart
and stretch the shutter speed as long
as her patience, let in all the light

she can.

She can mesh her fingers through Orion's,
standing ready to help him catch
the Pleiades that hover above his hand,
she can hold his sword for him
for a while.
She can brush her fingertips along
Andromeda's straining arms, soothe
the chained flesh of her wrists. She
can trace faces in the sky
with her kind touch,
ladle warm soup for every one,
scratch the bears behind their ears
to keep herself coming undone.
She can blush, timid to reach
the extra lightyear that will bring
her hands to Cassiopeia's hair.

Or then she can
calculate the cold,
Orion's sword a pen, fight
through the mechanics
for the dynamics
and get there.
Mar 2016 · 251
magnetic north
Em Glass Mar 2016
On the backs of receipts
and physics formula sheets
I've been drawing compasses.
Needles pointing randomless,
concentric circles, shaky lines
creeping outside their contours
and I don't need you to tell me
I'm an amateur.
I already can't
find my way.
Mar 2016 · 543
March First
Em Glass Mar 2016
This is a lightly used copy of Nancy Drew.
This is an eraser shaped like a softball.
This is a bit of unraveled tennis racket grip.
This is an empty paper picture frame–
this is the picture that went in it.

I leave them all down south. Here,
I have only what I need:
the books, the periodic tables on the walls,
the dried leaves she collected for me
and had laminated last fall.
The star charts and on the top
shelf the glass jar of dead roses.
The little drawings she left me
on the backs of receipts, the graphs
of crystal shapes and symmetries.

I have only what I need now.
I am surrounded by me,
having survived my youth, ready
to start telling the truth.

This is a string of beads with half
a heart in the middle.
This is the remnant of a joint collection
of bobble-head turtles;
these are the heads that have fallen off.

Now look how much farther
they can see.
Mar 2016 · 802
a temporary matter
Em Glass Mar 2016
Dead flowers are brittle, break
Dust covers the things you gave me,
mutes them, claims them, overtakes
them, squeezing the pages of books
together until they choke,
clouding the glass jar that you use
as a vase for the dead flowers.

Dead flowers do not need water, live
You made
the bed this morning
so if memory failed me
I would have no way of seeing today
that you were here last night.
And when I blink my eyes,
for that moment they're closed
I cringe with the sudden goodbye,
every instant turned away from your face
filled with the graceless empty
of having just finished a book.
No longer able to live in its eyes,
burrow into its spine, nestle
into the crook
of its neck.

dead flowers are brittle, break easy,
please, please be careful
with this–
Feb 2016 · 922
Em Glass Feb 2016
even in sleep you are aggressively alive,
recklessly optimistic.
you twitch and twist against me
and I don't know how your arm
hasn't fallen asleep beneath the back
of my neck like that.
your short-winded lungs slow down,
your breathing gets rough,
even in sleep you are fighting
for air

and you are getting it.
you snore though
Feb 2016 · 355
Em Glass Feb 2016
A student of mine wrote me a note
on the blank side of a 3x5
index card
and she hugged me goodbye.
Another went home and built a telescope,
and he sent me pictures
of the pieces along the way,
apart and together like an array
of Martian images coming in
from the Opportunity in a
pixelated panoramic display.
I told him about lenses
and the human eye,
about why stars will always look
pointed unless we get close enough
to really see them and he said-
I’ll try.
Feb 2016 · 336
the scale of atoms
Em Glass Feb 2016
She doesn't wear sweaters anymore;
the thread unravels at the edges
when she needs things to stay together.
Every group of things she sees
comes unstuck in space; a sheet
of glass over everything
magnifying what's underneath, so
as she sits letting droplets hit her back
one after the other on the floor
the bathroom tiles file past her eyes
like crystalline symmetries,
footsteps in the snow fold over
on themselves, glide planes on high,
her own feet are a rotary inversion
of the version of her that mirrors her walk
upside down, her own feet
are always the ground
she walks on, always moving,
always soothing and then falling through.

To see the world on the scale
of atoms,
to break down
the random, to battle the chasm,
to search for structural integrity
in her enthusiasm
so she can know it will hold her up

and yet everywhere opposites attract.
On the scale of atoms, positive
and negative, north and south,
an attraction and repulsion,
and evolutionary revulsion
that she can't make herself feel.
Ratted out by evolution, still
she zooms in on everything
to try to see a reason she still exists.
Jan 2016 · 314
Em Glass Jan 2016
I remember sitting up with you,
trying to show you how the glow
on the screen could be you,
how you could stop saying her name
over and over again
if you wanted to,
how I would stay on the
other end and still be there
on the other side of the night.
How there were at least words
we could say, books to read,
at least soon it would be day
and there would be things to do
and it’s easy to move on when
you really need to move.

I remember you sitting up with me,
trying to show me that I
don’t need to be guilty,
that I can just be, and I can
like who I like
and it doesn’t have to be
the likes of you.
I remember sending you a picture
of a yellow bird on a telephone wire,
you sending me a song,
me sending you a joke,
you sending me a poem,
you sending me a wedding song,
your wedding song
from your wedding with her,
your signature on the divorce papers.

The way you looked right to me then
did not make me feel not guilty.

It is not my fault that I am
this far away, it is not
my fault that I befriended a bird of prey,
that your hawk eyes saw right back
to how little I knew of me, to how
much I hated myself yesterday,
it is not my fault that I am
this way,

it is not my fault.

I remember your children being born,
your wedding song and the wordless
music at the end of it.
I remember never thinking you were wrong.

I remembering sitting on my jacket
outside the door of the observatory.
My friends were up two stories
watching other worlds move,
and I remember listening to you, pulling back,
looking at the phone and thinking,
‘I am too.’

You told me that today I sounded happy,
I sounded me, less guilty, more free.
And you spun away slowly, thinking
that kind of friend is not worth having.
So you sent me to orbit some other planet
with some other sun
and I have to tell you it won’t be hard.
I can find my way to light from dark.

I will take a girl to the observatory some day.
I’ll walk her there, pull her up the spiral
staircase by the hand,
and over her shoulder I will point
to constellations you have never dreamed of
and I will tell her,
‘these are all the worlds we could go to.’
And we will start to move.

And we will take our friends with us,
up the spiral stairs,
and I will not stay at the door with you.
I will wrap my jacket around myself
and I will take what I know about the moon,
a glow in my hands,
and I will hold it out to them.
And if I move all over the universe
I will always come back to them.

Because that’s what friends do.
Jan 2016 · 483
Em Glass Jan 2016
You say again that you would rather
move from the tabletop over to the couch
but I think this is right:
us sitting on the edge,
your feet planted on the chair while mine
dangle in the air like a child’s,
which is the way it is.
You think of fingers interlocked like locking
us in a cell, or an embrace,
I think of children holding hands and
running through a fairytale.
So I think this is right,
us sitting on the edge here
with comfort over there
and I won’t say it’s me not you
because I am not confused,
not an amoeba or just easily bruised,
I am not broken or scared.
I just want to sit here
instead of there.
#stop treating people on the ace spectrum like children 2k16
Jan 2016 · 745
catching the pleiades
Em Glass Jan 2016
I am a dandelion in the hand of a child.
I haven’t the heart to tell her
that I’m a **** and not a wildflower.
So I don’t.

The stars are always aligned but I can’t always see
them properly. When the light is low and the moon is new
I can show you what Orion’s arm is pointing to,
a little cluster like us that hardly exists.

My mother used to tell me that my hands would be
too clammy to be held by anyone else
but she wasn’t counting on you.

Our fingers are woven tight enough that I feel safe
looking up-
we can take the constellations in turns, you first,
so that if the toe of your boot catches
a crack in the asphalt where moss is growing through
I can steady you.

And you would do the same for me.

The earth is so young. There will be
time enough for me to take you to the observatory,
to see properly how Orion stands ready
to catch the Pleiades.
We can watch it till sunrise, fingers intertwined,
blinking sleep from our eyes as the sun blinks the stars
from its skies, thinking:
that is you and I
I'm starting to notice my own theme
Jan 2016 · 480
flight number
Em Glass Jan 2016
On the back of a receipt written
in a language I don’t understand,
detailing a currency I don’t use,
I sketch hands holding each other.
I can’t get the fingers to intertwine
properly so I don’t know
what the point is.

The texture of your skin
that’s so impossible to catch
is just a mess of atoms like the rest of us
and it makes the cabin pressure hit my heart
a little too hard, besides.
Flying doesn’t feel very free.

Below me, streetlights flicker in alleys,
sketch out silhouettes of strangers
that could be a little frightening
but from here they resemble ursa major
and the continent is a pond
reflecting the sky.
Even the city gets prettier
the farther from it I get.

With all that air between us
I am the color of Orion,
neither white nor blue and not quite light,
the color of a dandelion that knows
it is a **** but hasn’t the heart
to turn away from the little girl collecting it
in a fistful of wildflowers.

And with all that air between us
and all that way to fall without you
I find that for someone who must try so hard
to want the rest of my life,
I am awfully scared of missing it.
OS 087 austrian air
Dec 2015 · 321
hiding the pleiades
Em Glass Dec 2015
And if you follow the line
of Orion’s arm up and to the right,
there’s a faint blur, a whole cluster
of stars that one may not have known
was there, not in all her days
of suburbia. The Pleiades, hiding
behind brighter lights
as she lays her bad back on the asphalt.
And Alcyone, the brightest of the lot,
mistaken for a dot of sleep in the periphery
of sight, lost to time.  
She is waiting for the sun to wake up,
their fingers intertwined like children’s
in a fairytale, she blinks the sleep
from her eyes as it blinks the stars
from its skies.
I guess that is you and I.
Dec 2015 · 356
Em Glass Dec 2015
We used to play.
Climb rocks of dirt
and red clay and you would tolerate
my singing
and help me with my math.

And shout when I said "minus"
while you said "no, negative"
and I, your double
negative reckless
optimist, couldn't possibly wire up
that light switch
that you installed wrong,
couldn't read a diagram of circuits,
couldn't take a tour
of the machine shop
because just looking at the gadgets
in wonder might get my
fragile fingers
cut off.

You said trust no one,
not even someone who smiles,
not even the janitor who whistled
when he mopped the school halls.
Never get in a van, sure,
but what if that man at the airport
was just trying to get home, dad?
What if he had a daughter to see?

What if you could see me?

I bet you're glad I never learned
how to fix your cars.
Glad I left my bike at the house
so the grease doesn't get on my calves.

'I'm just trying to keep you safe.'

No one is ever safe,
no birds are ever free.
I have learned so much about circuitry

but even back then,
I could have gotten that switch working
if you'd just let me play.

You’ve taught me to be more
fragile than I’d like but
I could have done it because
despite what you say about trust and luck
and when a girl should give up
I will always try,
always go to the ends of the earth
to find light.

And I will show you
that you don't need to be made
of stone
to love a girl.
Dec 2015 · 199
knowing what you like
Em Glass Dec 2015
thirteenth north and left on third,
climb the hill,
confuse the bluebirds with the jays

and orion with aries,
a fumbling through
everything you love.

and when you've burnt it once
and can't forgive,
consider this:

the soufflé is not the soufflé
but the recipe
Dec 2015 · 2.5k
Em Glass Dec 2015
People cross the street
on white ladders.
The squirrel knows
that there is solid road

It hops forward
ready to cut
corners and
on the move and
something light
and moving faster.

Squirrel will pause,
it will not.
People know
where to walk.

Cross over move forward
go on, go on go,
but in light
one should pause,
which squirrels,
of course, know.

In the face
of fast light,
let’s go slow.
Nov 2015 · 1.1k
london street
Em Glass Nov 2015
And you think
no one will know
to put change in this cup
because it is empty.

The rain hitting
the paper of it
doesn’t sound the same
as the clinking coins of yesterday.

A child skips across
the bridge, outrunning
her raincoat, ahead of mother,
does one and then another

double take because she
does not want her raincoat
anyway, wants to feel
water bead on skin,

she falls back and takes it
from mother’s outstretched hands
and tosses it to the folded ones
of the man.

She has one pound
to spend today, mother may


Mother, why?

You watch her little hands
ball into fists,
her eyes cloud with mist
that melts into the rain.

You watch mother open a door,
watch a wind tunnel batter
the chandelier ornaments,
they clink like wind chimes or coins.

The child safely inside,
mother’s eyes glare back,
fear without reason,
they shout
*I want that raincoat back.
Nov 2015 · 714
contiguous regions
Em Glass Nov 2015
A theorem:

any map of the world
contained on a plane
of contiguous regions

needs only four colors
to prevent the bleeding
of borders.

No matter the shape,
nor how many times
a nation state

splits itself up
with all the fight
of man splitting the atom,

nor how many splinter
groups stick themselves
into the skin

of the innocent. Any four
colors, take blue for the oceans
or black for the bruise,

it’s not the borders bleeding
but the insides,
you seeking refuge

in worlds that blame you
for the men that hold the atoms
that split you.

Odds are you’ve never
seen an atlas of only four colors
because Atlas picks more,

how else to contain it all,
to keep from shouting fine
and letting the whole globe


Oh, poor atlas.

Salaam, shalom,
what we want
is all the same,
but paix,
it sounds so different.
pray for paris, but also everywhere. what is happening to us. what have we done
Nov 2015 · 473
Nutmeg Hands (ii)
Em Glass Nov 2015
egg whites cling
to your hands,
you won’t wash them away,
the smell of dish soap
still tastes like flinching
away from your mother
the first time you cursed
and she tried
to clean you.

The back of the bottle
says Dawn is just a base,
with a mild pH,
if swallowed, simply
by downing water.

You won’t wash your
hands by drowning.

They are still soft
from rolling dough
in sugar,
the whites retaining
everything you touch,
cinnamon and nutmeg,
cardamom and clove,

everything warm
you learned from her,
the command of the kitchen,
the heat of your skin
under her quick palm,

the heat that concentrates
in the steam
of the boiling water,

black tea,

and you burn your lip
and your mother kisses it
and you gasp in the smoke
with your chai-stained lungs
and you hug her
with your nutmeg hands
to which every spice has clung.
Nov 2015 · 183
Em Glass Nov 2015
I know when to cover your ears,
where to tread lightly,
how hot you'll want
your tea on a scale
of lukewarm to bitter
to scalding,
when to cry with you versus
when to distract--
     I bet I can make you laugh--
and when you smile I think
I'd work time and a half
every day just to come home
to that smiling eye,
and when you turn away
for a minute
I am become
a purposeless thing on the ground,
just breathing,
wondering when the
paralysis hit,
sure my arms worked a minute
ago when you needed a hug,
now they can't even reach
my shoulders,
let alone the bottle on the shelf.
why don't they work
for myself
Nov 2015 · 634
Birds of the magnetic field
Em Glass Nov 2015
They say opposites attract.
Negative and positive
atomic bits,
the south pole of the magnet
and the north pole of the earth.
They say the church knows best
when it swarms the local high
ravens of hate,
they say the children need G-d,
blind baby chicklings that can’t see,
they say protest is free speech
and death is free will,
free as a bird,
say the ravens.

Birds are not free.

There are songs
and there are alarm calls,
they say help me,
I look like flying
but I feel like barely surviving,
they say you can only hold back
the river for so long,
crying dying pulled-dead
into the ground
of the magnetic meadow.

They say don't you know,
your creator doesn’t love you

and the students,
they say
*I create myself.
the cold magnets
of the poles of the earth
Oct 2015 · 276
root negative one
Em Glass Oct 2015
the numbers are introduced
to me
as imaginary,
gloves shaking my hand
and glowing figures
slipping through woods
with mossy sounds,
overgrown silence,
spells, keys, magic crowns,

until the fog stumbles in
and smokes us out
and hooded figures step through
the mist of does not exist
and into the sunlight of the other
that singes their edges
and shakes me awake
in the complex plane

of the linear mindset,
in which they're
parsing the problem
back to spells and keys
that don't open doors anymore
because the hooded figures
know all kinds of code,

see what I see,
see the root of hoodedness
enter our imaginary,
and as the only way out
the figures and i
shake a deal--

everything i imagine
now must real
Oct 2015 · 330
when did you stop
Em Glass Oct 2015
Wild woods, moss-green gowns,
secret keys and magic crowns
are lit by the sun until
this forest is so bright with hope
that you shrink away, blinking,
still learning to cope
with your right to stand
among beautiful things.

What if I told you the fairy dust
was just bits of dry skin,
nomadic in a sunbeam through a window,
forest of perpetual Sunday afternoon,
slowing the light down
to the quaint speed of sound

would that make you feel better
about lying on the ground?
Your shoulder blades are not cutting
at the grass like you say.

You are a resident of this light,
citizen of the liquid state it’s in,
of every grain of sand in this clearing,

you are so alive,
and every cell of you that dies
is a particle in the current in the sky
that gives buoyancy to fairy flight

so please, come sit back down
with me.

There is a child in you that still believes
in fairies,
and I would like her
to see how green the ground is today,
how sure
it is that her feet belong,
that this ground is hers
to walk upon.
Sep 2015 · 319
suicide net (II)
Em Glass Sep 2015
The bridge between us
stands in the wind stoic
with indifferent strength,
resigned strength.

Static trusses of steel
withstand without a sound
as forces crack through it
and propagate to the ground,
like how the lightning through your
mess of veins
is grounded in the rubber soles
of your sneakers.

We are stalling, looking for veins
in everything to prove our alive—
a dragonfly’s wing on the floor,
a leaf’s venation,
the Arabic graffiti lost in translation
on the railing
and the rivers creeping
outside their contours.

Your lips are turning blue in the storm.

The bridge is strong.
Nothing can go wrong but
every bar is under stress,
yours in tension and mine all compressed
and the bars don’t move but
underneath is a storm of forces
pushing and pulling us at once
with the cold magnets
of the poles of the earth.

If we jump off this bridge
instead of across
we will not fall
fixed it
Sep 2015 · 451
suicide net
Em Glass Sep 2015
The bridge between us
stands in the wind stoic
with indifferent strength,
resigned strength.
Static trusses of steel
bear the load without a sound
as forces crack through it
and propagate to the ground,
like how the lightning through your
mess of veins
is grounded in the rubber soles
of your sneakers.

We are stalling, looking for veins
in everything to prove our alive.
You see a dragonfly’s wing
on the floor
and I see anything I want
in the stars in a patch of sky,
and then we each take one
step forward and I wonder why
I’m the one who trips.

The bridge is strong.
Nothing can go wrong but
every bar is under stress,
yours in tension and mine all compressed
and the bars don’t move but
underneath is a storm of forces
pushing and pulling,
tugging heartstrings,
plucking them apart like you
pluck the dead wings off the dragonfly.

We each stand on our ends looking in.
Bits of dry skin drift around,
form fairy dust in the street lamps,
slowing light down until it spills along
at the quaint speed of sound.

you used to believe in fairies

I don’t see how you stopped,
not while every cell of yours that dies
is swept into a particle current
that gives buoyancy to fairy flight

If we jump off this bridge
instead of across
we will not fall
Sep 2015 · 443
real girl
Em Glass Sep 2015
Your picture comes up
while he and I are in the kitchen
making salad
and he takes one look at you,
all strong eyes and tattoos,
and of all things to focus on
in this world of unbreathable beauty,
of you,
he picks as his focal point
your haircut.
Which is made of hair that is all yours
but somehow is just six inches short
of girl.

Well yeah, but not a real girl.
What does that even mean

She’s not made of plastic, I scream, she’s real.
She’s real, I scream.
He does not flinch, does not here.
I throw the phone on the ground
and it shatters like one of his corral plates
but I didn’t mean to break any window
from me to your face.
And with shattered-glass hands
and shattered-glass breaths shuddering,
I keep chopping.
I whisk in some mint and some pepper and salt.
I chop up parsley as calmly
as my shaking hands can manage.
He still does not hear the shaking;
compliments my steady hand,
praises my knife skills until I have to set the knife aside
so I am not tempted to stab at the chill
running down my own back and away
from this heated kitchen.
I mix the dressing.
I chop the parsley.
And there is chlorophyll left on the cutting board
so I wash it off.
It swirls down the drain.
She’s real, she’s real,
I scream.
She’s realer than me.
Sep 2015 · 300
Em Glass Sep 2015
The picket signs put your life at stake.
With your hand in hers it is all
you can do to keep moving forward
because the signs are telling you
that love is not love after all,

that eves proceed their holidays,
spring freezes into winter
which ripens to fall.
Light burns off the earth in waves
that crash into the sun.

Bodies float out of their graves
like astronauts jettisoned from the shuttle.
Dirt hardened by ages sighs
beneath your toes,
magma slithers back into volcanoes,

the biker’s tires only spin forward
because he’s zooming back,
he holds a beer can in his hand
beneath one streetlight
and a firefly in a jar beneath the next.

Children are releasing fireflies
from jars, poking holes
back into the lids,
cutting off air supply,
untelling lies.

And you, as you walk
through the picketers,
are become a child again,
weaving through the legs of women
and men a party, hugging your shoulders

to yourself again to confirm
that they’re yours
as you stand in a dress
your mother picked out for you
the night before.

As the picketers leave you fall,
glasses crack, voice creaks
like an attic door.

Rain dilutes the salt on your cheeks
as it rises from the floor;
this is a mind war.
After all that backwards,
this girl is not something you want
to find beautiful anymore.

But you are still holding her hand.
she says to you,
maybe G-d doesn’t mean it
when He says He hates us.
After all,
He said
let there be light,
*and then there was darkness.
does this make sense
Sep 2015 · 702
raised to the power of
Em Glass Sep 2015
The moon is content
to believe without
understanding why
she was placed where she
flies, orbiting space
and looking at time.

But the earth wants to know.

It wants to accuse
whoever carved out
its calderas,
and at every aphelion
the moon finds it harder
to move, like she can’t drag
herself back through the blues
of skies one more time.
The tether that holds
them together tears
her apart.

The moon doesn’t get
dizzy, but earth thinks
it’s spinning too fast,
sketches up the sky,
an engineered map of whys,
of stars connected
by thin pencil lines,
she thinks in miracles while it
thinks in margins of error,
equations, exponents.

On nights when she glows
green, the moon envies those pairs
who favor the power of two

because she squints and sees
the blueshift in earth’s eyes
as it crashes closer,
time spills out behind her,
space suffocates
between them, closer,
perihelion come,
and she blinks and sees
earth’s caldera eyes
raised to nothing.
Sep 2015 · 246
Fingers that boil
Em Glass Sep 2015
A schoolgirl, if you will,
in a fluid dress with fluent hair,
long, she’s probably blond
if we’re being honest,
and the dress is yellow too.
She hopes it is bright enough
to distort her vision.

She leaps in the rain,
but the water beads right
off her skin
long as she keeps her eyes down.

Moths swarm and settle
in her hair, mistaking it
for some sort of sunsilk.

It is the silk of her cocoon.

When she comes out
later, she sheds it all
with scissors.

Soon as the silk breaks
the water spills into her
but her lungs barely even whimper;
she has suffocated before,
and it hasn’t killed her yet.
People are waterproof;
water beads on skin.
It’s the dress they want her in
that makes the rain so public
and clingy.

But all the moths have drowned.
She kneels down,
bare knees on the concrete,
and picks up a wing
and lets it drifts to the ground.
Limp, listless flight,
more gentle than ever
the moths were in life.

The girl now
stomps on the wing,
scolding herself under her breath
just quiet enough to forget
that she is alive.
Like a knife she twists her heel
and rips the waterlogged wing
into fractals of nothing.
She knows there are some things
she should never find beautiful,
like death,
or girls.

The sun catches her fallen hair.
With fingers that boil
it offers her molten gold
as compensation for the world.
alternatively titled "Yellow" so you can think about that if you want to
Sep 2015 · 448
Em Glass Sep 2015
Gossamers of drywall
speckle the lips
of the trout lily leaves
beneath the boarded windows
like sprinkles of dew
rainbow on a boy’s ice cream.

At the edge of the lily
patch crouches the crane,
the treads of its tires
wilting in the heat, out of air,
having awakened on the wrong
side of the flowerbed.

The planks of wood
are just planks of wood.
The boy lays them across
the ground, building a bridge
through the leaves
to get to the other side
of the leaves.

His arms are out at his sides
like a bird about to take flight
cone in hand but he falls.
Well at least
trout lilies are not lava.
In fact, and he remembers
this with edges that *****
the backs of his eyes
and stick to the sides of his mind,
he can tell they aren’t toxic
because she showed him how
to notice the speckled pattern
on their leaves.
Totally edible. See?
But today alone they taste dry.

The sun melts
the boy’s ice cream
into the soil
and, on fingers that boil,
offers him molten gold
as compensation
for the world.
Aug 2015 · 557
predawn perseids
Em Glass Aug 2015
the sky lightens gradually
as if from nowhere, as if someone
in the sky is slowly rising,
blinking sleep from his eyes
and sitting lazily up onto his elbow,
casually ******* the brightness slider
on the universe as if he's done it
every day, he must have.
before the pink can hit it the checker
pattern of clouds fades away,
promising a casually clear blue
day but this one is more
personal now, his gift to me,
because on the concrete looking up
i can see the sun before it rises,
i know what it's like to wake
with the sun there on the other
side of the bed, to see her slowly
blinking the stars from her skies.
yawning, stretching, morning breath,
to see her rolling up her sleeves
and tying back her hair
and scattering her dreams of death
with a shake of her tired head.
and yet even before she is fully awake
she is so radiant.
the moon, shooting stars, even the perseids
step back to let her shine.
i feel as though when the sun
hides behind storms some days,
each day i will know why.
i went out to see the meteor shower and it wasn't the only breathtaking thing about the predawn sky
Jul 2015 · 3.5k
SR-71 blackbird
Em Glass Jul 2015
at three times the speed of sound the SR-71
was so fast it didn’t need to hide, but when
I met you we were slower, metal walls covered
in black reconnaissance paint, sonar silence.

blackbird, shy

sometimes you bit your lower lip, or my
eyes drowned, and we looked down and I cursed
my stubbornly earthbound feet, but blessed
be the stars that crossed for us to meet.

blackbird, cry

under the cozy cover of quietly building-up time
we moved on. when the back of your hand
brushes my face it slowly lifts another brick
of something sturdy into place.
the way your palms get clammy with excitement
when you point out planes coming out and in,
the way your eyes light with joy and nervousness
at my reaction is how I feel when I lean over your shoulder
and point out jupiter in the sky.

blackbird, dry your eyes

the hello was slow, but goodbyes move
faster than sound. we finally found saturn
and then time ran out.
standard procedure for the SR-71
in the event of a missile lock-on
was to continue being
the fastest thing in the sky.

blackbird, fly
I'm into space lately guys
Apr 2015 · 2.1k
Em Glass Apr 2015
We have ventured from the start
and lost sight and broken apart, but
there is a way to live without
hearing heartbeats as ticking clocks
shouting of times past;
we sat side by side through every class
and we’re not done learning. Our
gravestones are jettisoned from the shuttle,
floating there goes gravity but
even shadowed from the sun by so much,
we clutch at moons to make our own light
on our own planet. We
could keep going now,
could stop each other from falling
and keep marking our heights
against the wall even though
they stopped changing long ago
because we didn’t
and instead of accumulating
the weight of years and days
we could find a way to keep getting lighter
the farther we get from the beginning
we are finite
but there went gravity
cause of death: life
a space-time continuum
Apr 2015 · 3.0k
Em Glass Apr 2015
I’ve learned that in the morning
light is liquid, flowing golden,
and I’ve learned that in the ocean
every motion turns to fluid,
and fish glide, learn how birds fly,
and their eyes are always open.

I’ve learned that if you stand
in the belfry when the bells ring
you can hear them in your heart
like when she calls you and the phone sings.
And I’ve learned that when you’re hoping,
light is lighter, clearer, brighter
and I’ve heard that you can see it
with eyes open
a space-time continuum
Apr 2015 · 1.9k
Em Glass Apr 2015
We are done trying to piece
our hearts back together
with glass and glue each time
they shatter
because there is only so much
blood one can lose
and we are strong enough each
to reach for ourselves again and we
are strong enough to be friends
and to look at the sky and to know
that there is no race to fill up
all that space
a space-time continuum
Apr 2015 · 1.2k
Em Glass Apr 2015
The ring around the rosy has
stopped spinning.
The dizzy blurs sharpen each blade
of grass into a wit-sharp weapon,
each grain of sand into a
contented sigh, hands
in pockets free from posy.
The pigtails have stopped bopping
up and down, the red balloon
not popped but slowly
floating round. In a corner
of a tree with clearly defined
edges, Charlotte’s daughter’s web
glimmers with dew and some
small lies but mostly caught flies
that can be eaten or cut free
with that weapon, wit-sharp,
not as shiny as it used to be but
rather dull like ashes, as
we all fall down.
You could ask, at this point,
about the purpose of slowly carrying on,
but you’d find yourself swathed
in sticky silk— this spider takes
that from no one.
She hopes your far-flung hopes
and dreams your improbable dreams,
and sometimes it seems that
being quiet is easier than being honest,
but we do our best.
a space-time continuum
Apr 2015 · 1.4k
Em Glass Apr 2015
If we stop learning moon names at Callisto
and Ganymede, where are the other sixty-three
whoop, there goes gravity
If Themisto stubbed his toe, how could we
teach everyone else to cringe?
We are growing,
Elara, we are learning how to reach
higher with the hands we’ve got,
how to be tiny dots full of not-quite fire
in a world so much bigger than desire.
The best advice you gave me,
Elara, was when you silently tied back
your hair and rolled up your sleeves,
cleared your throat and decided
It’s not the fire after all, it’s the light.
And I might have burned out by now
if you hadn’t just rolled up your sleeves
like that, not flaming or fuming or
running or burning but steady,
ready for the rest of forever.
You are fire and water at once,
Elara. You take my hand and we walk
calmly upward, one step
for me and one for you makes two
for womankind.
Stepping over the black hole
of expectations and into the revelations
of well-lit night. You and me,
Elara, now we’re ready.
a space-time continuum
Apr 2015 · 1.1k
Em Glass Apr 2015
People are full of fire,
you told me.
You said that people glow red,
their eyes full of stars that are
bigger than them, chain reactions
refracting and exploding light,
because when people are infinitely
small in the universe they fight back.
They sharpen their words with their teeth,
until swords are glistening, ready
to keep out ghosts blistering
in the heat, get out stay out,
this soul will collect and over-
flow with fire, will burn
like the sun that started it all,
will fight back,
white hot, on track,
for the right to stand tall.

I lit a candle to show you
how the hottest part of flame
is actually blue, but
you blew it out and flicked your wrist
and sent it flying high as your far-flung
hopes and you sat with me through
the darkness, ghosts gone, we are
glowing red, we are fiery and content
to sit among what we can’t see.
a space-time continuum
Apr 2015 · 619
Em Glass Apr 2015
Tell me about myself.
The way you’d explain to the moon
why bits of it sometimes go dark,
tell me what I’m waiting for when I
go still in the dog park. Tell me how
my silence sounds when everything
is muffled and magnified by air
full of snow and empty space. In a
shuddering state of icicles inquiring
ice, as the shards fall into the vacuum
below and shatter outward, as they circle
your head and orbit your mind, seeing
the whole thing from the outside,
check your privilege.
To the rest of the sky, the moon
is always whole,
so before you ask me,
you know what? You know
what? Just this once, please,
you tell me.
a space-time continuum
Apr 2015 · 563
Em Glass Apr 2015
The first time you flew you told the birds how unfair
it is that the air is so much thinner up here, that below
they have to breathe the crushing weight of the stratosphere
just because they’re accustomed to it, and your gasping
for breath doesn’t make any sound yet every day
you choose life,

man and wife
man and wife

placed in a gunfight with a pocket knife and a guidebook
of expectations. You don’t remember filling an application
for this, for now-flightless wings or for being this daughter

I will love you
come hell or high water

but the first time you landed you didn’t write a thing,
you just drank tea out of a paper cup, no mug in the sink,
no need for anyone to look up when she came home.  
The first time you used the key in this new house’s door
it fit so perfectly that you didn’t feel at home anymore.
The *** boiled even though you watched, and you drank
out of a paper cup and no one looked up, it was
biodegradable and then it was

The first time you flew.
The first time you really saw you.
The first time you heard that song called poison oak,
the first time you said what you meant to say,
the last time you spoke.
a space-time continuum
Apr 2015 · 489
Em Glass Apr 2015
I remember you bringing reds and oranges
back to the leaves as if you’d painted them on
grey canvas where there’d only been negative
space before, remember watching you watch
your works of life drift to the floor.
I remember you trying to look down
when a perfect snowflake landed on your chin.
Now I sit on the ground, just waiting
to hear that your flight got in.

I remember sitting in the crowded café,
remember knowing you had entered
by the way the room got softer, the way
the colors saturated and the crowds got smaller
and the windows magnificently taller.
I remember staying away.
I remember being afraid.
The sensation was not enough to drain
the warmth or color from the room
until you left it.
a space-time continuum
Apr 2015 · 446
Em Glass Apr 2015
Kids will be kids
and boys will be boys.
We’re not who we are
and we don’t share toys.
Most days I can think
of yet better things
to paint and to trace
than my face, but that
acrylic blue, they tell me
I’ll rue the day
I let it highlight
my fingerprints
so well.
And so by fall, I  
am scrubbing my hand
off the bedroom wall.  
There are spikes inside
my unpeeled grapes,
in my father’s wine
and mother explains
about seeds and vines
but I forget, ask,
say it again, please,
she says write it down
instead and I tried
but I can never
find a pen.
a space-time continuum
Apr 2015 · 2.2k
Em Glass Apr 2015
In the beginning there was light
and so much fight to be drunk into
our very bones, not an eye sunk in,
nobody drunk except on finger paint
and what the stars might taste like
when we thought stars were small,
when there wasn’t far to fall,
before the white-tiled kitchen floors
grew too far away for us to notice
the texture of the black mortar
that held them in place like Elmer’s glue.
School is a bright maze of halls
that we walk through hand in hand
and mark our heights against the wall,
unsure whether to fly or to stall and stay close.
Our eyes are level as we hopscotch
round the ankles of women and men;
I think we’re going to be friends.
They weave a Charlotte’s web of pigtails
and bright red balloons, but isn’t it just
true that we feel safe close to ground,
tempted upward by gold and warmth
but torn, for the kitchen floor is close
and nice and cool, and doesn’t burn us
to the touch.
a space-time continuum
Dec 2014 · 281
don't break character
Em Glass Dec 2014
in the silence where the storm should be,
in a room with slanted, loft-low ceilings,
you sit by the window where the cold gets in,
wrapped in a blanket you wouldn't need
if you'd unlocked the door.
the rest of the building bundles up
and walks across the grass
they shouldn't be able to see.
the storm watch buzzes
through the air where the snow should be,
and no one should bother searching empty shelves
but everyone does.
milk, and extra batteries.
all that unused energy,
crackling through the sky just like the lies
you've been told and those you've tried to hide.
I can't act, you say, I can barely tell a lie
without cracking a smile, without losing face.
in the silence where the storm should be,
you wait.
the lights go on.
in the calm after, you piece together
your shattered ruins, rebuild the floor,
unlock the door,
and carry on,
with a smile,
as before.
Nov 2014 · 319
Em Glass Nov 2014
You sit in a large hall.
On one wall,
windows climb all the way to the ceiling.
There is too much sunlight. It is bright,
and drafty, and always crowded.
But you can glance
up from the depths of words
and notice her, notice how the room
gets even brighter, notice how it gets
quieter and cozier and louder and smaller
and magnificently taller, and
you are terrified.
You smile in terror, and laugh in terror,
and wave in terror, and in terror
you watch her sit down,
and in terror you struggle through
a proof together,
a quietly terrified give and take.
You are content to wait in this moment
for the moment when you can give in
and accept what is true.
For the moment when you can stop
proving things.
You are afraid.
The sensation is not enough
to drain the warmth or color from the room
until she leaves it.
Nov 2014 · 390
man and wife (ii)
Em Glass Nov 2014
The first time you flew
you told the birds how unfair
it is that the air is so much
thinner up here,
that below they have to breathe
the crushing weight of the
just because they’re accustomed
to it, and your gasping
for breath doesn’t make
any noise yet
every day you choose life,

man and wife
man and wife

placed in a gunfight with a pocket knife
and a guidebook of expectation.
You don’t remember filling out an
application for this life, for
now-flightless wings and for being
their daughter,

I will love you
come hell or high water

and the first time you flew
you heard birds laugh at you
and the air was so thin
you fell right through,
and the silence so thick
you landed hard,
lungs aching,
but you were never afraid of the dark,

in the high water
watch out for sharks

because you aren’t one for stark
contrasts and it’s nice to feel
like nothing at all,
keep falling.

The first time you didn’t
write a poem you drank tea
out of a paper cup, no mug
in the sink, no need for anyone
to look up when she came home.
The first time you used the key
in your new house’s door
it fit so perfectly that you didn’t feel
at home anymore,
and the first time you were afraid of the dark
you weren’t,
because it can’t get you
if it can’t see you’ve left any mark.

The first time you didn’t
write a poem the *** boiled
even though you watched,
and you drank tea out of a paper cup
and no one looked up, it was
biodegradable and then it was

The first time you flew.
The first time you really saw you.
The first time you heard that
song called poison oak,
the first time you said what you
meant to say,
the last time you spoke.
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