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Heather Butler May 2012
between Patrick Thompson and this one*

It's huge.
       Floating, bobbing on the current--
I try:not to remember such
                                 thin  g           s,
      Sinewy and grasping as they are,
                            wraiths, demons, and shades alike.
      It all just
                      (makes sense &)
                                     tells of truths
"Truths." As true as truthiness can be
                    through a glass onion.
              -------------------------------------- - Run.
Heather Butler Mar 2010
like subtle strings i can feel you
apart, alone, distanced and isolated i can feel you
like a phase i was only a dream--
you can say i'm still there and you're still here,
there you go, drifting off into your dark clouds
looking back at me with remorse--
i was too much a spectator to keep the strings
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Oct 2010
Waking up to the window leaking life back into the cell
mixing with the white walls and echoing clock
and the dents in the door knobs.
I know I'm leaving today.
I don't take my medicine today.
I'm not going to be sleepy today.

Outside the creaky locked door I find nothing new
except faces I'll never see again and won't get to know,
this time.
Impatiently waiting for the call, for the call, for the call
when they'll let me out of this place.
Time ticks like a creaky fan on a summer afternoon,
consistently slowly.

Finally, out. Eight days gone and only my hair is longer.

On the floor the scent of coffee mixes with my perfume
and the musty smell of old books.
Here too early we welcomed ourselves in anyway
and she let us stay inside for a while.

I find myself a new thing to wear, here and there.
Happier now and content with myself
and rediscovering everything;
and I'm surprised to find everything where I left it.
Not just the clockwork of my room
but the architecture of the dining room as well.
The dresses are hung where they were before;
the tables haven't walked away.
With my name around my wrist I explore the nooks and crannies
and find no new spiders there.

But my eyes are different and the air more autumnal
than ever were before I went away.
The world isn't so dark and
maybe that's okay.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Nov 2010
Let's go out to the ocean.

We can build our home where
anenomes grow
and the starfish lose their limbs among stones.
We can dance with the tide
and call the moon our mother
as she pulls us up from our watery home.

We can forget how to breathe--
grow gills and drink air--
forget how to swim and be fish--
be together in our house beneath the waves.

Let's dance in the schools
frolicking among the seaweed
growing too tall for the depths to the sun.
We can find shallow pools and take in the warmth
of the star we don't see anymore.

"I miss it," you say.

"I'll follow," I say.

Together we leave paradise for our forgotten tennis shoes.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler May 2012
between Patrick Thompson and this one*

The birds in my pocket are molting.

         it's because they started smoking.
                                                                 How revolting.
                                                                           I'm convulsing.
                                           over and out it is---------(
A cactus moon over the endless fever dream).

              What's to lose? You've got new shoes

                                      I JUST WROTE IN MY HAIR!
Heather Butler Sep 2012
watch me.

follow my fingertips as i trace thin trails
of desire down your freckled chest

i don't even know you.
watch me;

watch this as i draw thick lines of ink
in the palm of my hand

until there are only puddles of

i don't even know you.

sometimes the leaves outside my window
shudder against the shutters like my fingertips

on your chest.
&i; don't even--

do i know you?
your eyes whisper lingering

on the liquid dripping down my

into soft puddles on the carpet--

(rain stains the ceiling tiles brown and bulging
              and meanwhile the saxophone

plays the low end)&this; is only the beg

this is only the&i; don't even know you.

*i don't even know you.
Heather Butler Sep 2010
What am I doing?
****, I don’t know.
I’m spinning around
and flailing about
just trying to get a grip on
the walls, on the floor, on anything.
And you keep asking me questions;
I can’t handle the questions;
please stop asking me questions.
My head hurts enough as it is.
I’m lying to you;
I’m lying next to you;
I’m lying upon you.
I’m just ******* lying
through my teeth.
And by the skin of my teeth
I’m getting by.

Everything is a blur;
I guess that happens when you spin
out of control.
You’re taking advantage of me.
I’m letting you take advantage of me.
I’m so confused and you know it.
But you want me.
And if I don’t know what I want
it’d might as well be you.

The condensation is building up;
we’re making it hot in here.
And all the while all I can think about
is how much I’ll regret this later.
It is later and
I regret it now.
You keep telling me
how much you’ve enjoyed yourself
and you’re asking me questions.
Please stop asking me questions;
I can’t handle the questions.
My mind is so fogged up right now
like the glass of the mirrors.
Stop writing your name in the vapor.
I don’t need such a permanent reminder,
something I can’t clean off,
of what I’m doing to myself.
At least eventually your kiss will fade away.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Aug 2013
I'm sorry I couldn't be your everything.

I'm sorry I couldn't be everything
you needed.

But I can't be everybody's everything because
there would be nothing left

for me.
Heather Butler Jun 2011
There, departing--did you see?--
my inspiration fleeing from me.
Heather Butler; 2011
Heather Butler Mar 2010
I don't know what I am doing here.
At least I feel safe, for the moment.

This seat is warm from my heat.
They are talking but I do not know them.

I am lost in my own exhausted world.
I never knew how well the word malaise fit me.

This private access to your face stays upon my lap.
It is feeding from the outlet in the wall.

I am only exacerbating my addiction.
I am addicted to your face.

Your beautiful, careless face.
It makes me sick, but I can't resist.

What am I doing here?
I'm uncomfortable within my own skin.

I'm itching for a way out from the inside.
Spiders are stepping gracefully upon my veins.

I'm swimming in nausea.
My eyes are shifting to and fro.

My head is the worst of it all.
These thoughts of you are eating me alive.

Because I'm not supposed to be
thinking of you.
I should be thinking
of him;
but when had we decided we
were in love?
He assumed, I'm sure.
I don't remember ever discussing it.

And you.
Look at you assuming things
just like he has.

But I don't care to tell you
you're wrong
you're right.

You remind me of that boy;
the one who smelled


in the summer time.
Immature and
out of sync --
I pretended to love
all that he was.

I hate to say it to myself,
but you remind me of him
The way you laugh and the way
you act
throws me into terrible
of days best forgotten.

And yet,

Here I am searching for
your blue eyes and
your left handed scribble
that mess of brown hair--
characteristics of every man
I've really loved--
and that scruff you call a beard,
black shirts and forced smiles.

I'm aching for your voice
mumbling incoherently into my hair;
aching for your arms,
warm and strong
and soporific; aching for
your lips
warm and sweet
pressed against mine,

as they were that one night
upon the dance floor:
quick and only once
but enough to make me cry.

I'm only making things
worse for myself.
I'm barely getting along in this house--
I've run out of things to do
and things to say
and things to think
to myself,
yet I sit still here
imitating your presence before
me, telling myself

it's only so long
until Saturday.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Mar 2010
Disturbing the birds
Reminiscent of pale leaves
In Autumn breezes

As the doves scatter
A dozen falling pages
Catch the sun's white light

Behind them, they leave
A memoir of their presence:
A small white flyleaf.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Sep 2010
I'll never be the best,
     but at least I'll be something.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Jan 2011
Where is your heart steadfast?
Has it gone to follow some weary dream
And left you here to wallow in the past?
Pray, tell me its awful scheme.

Has it gone to follow some weary dream:
Your heart of gold, my lover last?
Pray tell me its awful scheme
That I may rescue you fast.

Your heart of gold, my lover last--
Gone, I fear, to drown in the stream.
That I may rescue you fast
Never lose your eyes agleam.

Gone, I fear, to drown in the stream,
And left you here to wallow in the past
Never lose your eyes agleam;
Where is your heart steadfast?
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Jul 2010
Haunting apathy clouds and clots
the blood beneath insomniac eyes
and the thoughts becoming tangible
simply search for reasons.

If everything is settled now, then
why the sudden start of regression
leading to apathetic depression
from a catalyst to happiness?

Temporary respite from endless fatigue
and allergies to chocolate cake--
sick in my mouth and mind
and lethargy the glue between my sheets:

a silent prayer never crosses the ceiling
because amidst all the turmoil of
a phantom city
never was a god.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Jan 2013
The drops of sand
were blood
falling to the floor
of her hourglass
Heather Butler Mar 2012
The heart is beating;
but that’s all it ever does,
ever does,
just keeps beating beatbeat;
and the heart is beating.

The wound is—-
gaping, gaping wide
The maw within the
maw surrounded by
the teeth, the little arteries
just keep beating.
And the teeth are beating.

——All the while the autumn breathes
her final sigh, sigh,
And who am I?

But is that it?
The heart keeps beating
and the teeth are beating
the autumn breathing
and the spider is weaving.

Drown the sheep in wine
and soap.
Heather Butler Apr 2010
If you like me, then like me.
Smile like you like me.
Talk to me
Listen to me
Hold the door like you like me.

If you want me, then want me.
Kiss me like you want me.
Treat me
Embrace me
Hold me like you want me.

If you love me, then love me,
and I will love you in return.

I will smile,
I will talk,
I will listen
because I love you.

I will kiss you,
I will embrace you,
I will hold you
because I love you.

But if you do not love me,
please don't tease me.
If you do not love me, then
hold me like you want me.

If you do not want me, then
hold the door like you like me.

If you do not like me, then
tell me.

Otherwise I'll continue to
smile at the open window
because I love you.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler May 2010
The walls here are white.
The walls here are quite white.
And so soft, inviting --
little whispers
laughing -- ha ha --
could I but once
see them and not desire to
      fly through them --
  ha -- but my hands --
bound to these hips --
a waist.
     Do let's try to be careful.
Circles --
  aah -- circles.
  Nice clean labcoats --
let's try another example --
  Maybe this time we can --
-- understand.
The walls
    are here
      to understand...
-- Ha ha ha --
    If you are not
       I am quite --
Quite --
          white --
     sure --
                I can bring you
    and you can run
          ha ha ha
     around this
    ­       table --
                    bed --
go insane.
      Do let's try to be careful
                              with this one.
And see?
          Yo soy
        estoy muy contenta
       No quiero estar --
                  estar --
           ser en cualquier
                             otro lugar.
         ­   Ay, circles, circles,
                y el oscuridad --
                         closes in
Estoy aquí
                        with you.
                                Los ojos --
                           sí, y el alma --
                       ay --
                                 me duele.
Señor -- good, good sir --
         put me down --
                  ayúdame a dormir
        porque these circles --
              -- so tiresome.
     walls surround
      What could you want
                              with me?
               Escaping --
                  You must leave --
          this chair --
               Not thine own.
       This booke is mine to
                               be writ.
                Ha ha --
         This mind travles
                   c    i    r    c    l    e    s
As if I were ever so good
                              a writer --
                    speaker --
           repeat me
                      repeat me
                          Me me me
Ay, señor --
                    por favor.
       Yo no quiero vivir en este lugar.
                                Quiero --



Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Apr 2013
Burning the Dollhouse as a Paper Lantern

You are meek, almost
   humble, little bird.

Tell me, is that who you were designed to be?

Your mother leaves flowers at your door
     like a tombstone
and she cries all the same.

Make them happy make them happy
I know there is a worm whispering in your ear
       infecting the silver apple
there is a fingernail sliver of a moon tonight.

             --He talks through headphones and broken binary
01001000 01000010... Hell I don't know what it means
they are switches like brain nervous endings
        they fire 01010000 01010100 01010011 01000100
                  at a thousand beats per second

You are a paper doll you do not know how to exist
anymore. Light a candle   you are beautiful in the flickering

send the flames licking the sky

a beacon to the one who loves
and leaves flowers at your shower door--
        you are a fragrance divine

as your house goes up in flames around you
a watery grave your bathtub doesn't drain

but you were paper anyway.
The water was suicide enough.
Heather Butler Apr 2013
For Fear of Returning Home

I curl my hands up into little *****,
small concentrations of the frustration I'm boiling in.

I fold in on myself like a sheet of paper
I crumple and wrinkle
and I haven't spoken to you in a while, now.

I am a sad excuse
for a great many things.
But he loves me anyway:
saying those things are just things,
just that,

even if I have been through
"more than most people should."

And he still tries to talk to me
He still feels the need to tell me
things I would be better off not knowing.

"I liked cuddling with you,"
he tells me.
I collapse in on myself and forget how to exist.

We are traveling at 70 down I-55
tire treads and wooden crosses forgotten on the shoulder
and I think of the monks in Vietnam who
walk two thousand miles around a lake
falling prostrate at every third step.

And I think of how much easier that would be
than to pray at the side of the interstate
falling prostrate every third step
onto broken glass and all that litters
and glitters in the headlights--
and catches your tires as you slip into the shoulder

late at night when the moon is new and absent
and you are tired.

I think of how much easier it would be
falling prostrate every third step
down the fifty miles to my bed

than to promise myself that I will
wake up tomorrow at all.

I slept all day today, my love
and I know you are disappointed--

but sometimes, most times,
it doesn't really seem worth the effort.
I wonder what motivates a seedling to keep striving
for the surface at the promise of sunlight
after spending so long in the dark.

Is the sun even shining, my love?
Can you promise me that one thing,
that pushing through whatever
hell this is

that there will be sunlight when I break through?

I don't want to tell you--
your love scars the side of my leg worse than
his **** ever did--

but he haunts me worse than
anything before him

and I am afraid of going back home to look at
the God-fearing family that sleeps
Heather Butler Apr 2013
A Manipulation of Thought

I like to think you will read this in a cluttered room,
with your hand on your chin
and a lamp on the table illuminating the soft white of the page.

I like to think you will smile as you read,
because you will think I am witty
or beautiful.

You will read this
in your personal place

I like to think there is a picture frame
containing small pressed flowers
that make you think of yellowed wallpaper
or dreams.

There is a clock ticking somewhere to your left
and that is strange, because
how many clocks have hands anymore?

But you are a magician in your own right
you speak words that conjure death
in a small way.
My poetry remains in the ashes.

The words will dance across your eyelids
as you blink in the sunlight;

you emerge from your hermit shell
a momentary mirage in the heat waves off the pavement
they are words they are these words--

The delicate flowers--
and the sunlight.
Heather Butler Apr 2013
Love Songs from the Pillows

You are real like nothing else is;
like the god of bellows never was
beyond the stars and waves of ocean
crying out to sister moon

you are real like no one else is.

We've been waiting for days
and rather I've been crawling tearing holes in my knees
I am crumpled and worn out I am an old pair of shoes
but we mold together

two separate pieces of the same broken glass.
But we are real like no one else is.

I am not the same I am empty--
rather I am a goddess of the cemetery and no one seems to notice--
you plant flowers in the weeping bed of skeletons
and bury your face in my love--

we are an embrace of air and loneliness,
two separate pieces of the same broken glass;
we are real like no one else is.

Finally we come to rest beneath a peace and heaven
between a soul and the bedsheets we find solace
in a whisper--
you and I are a dream,

and we are the dreamers,
an embrace of air and loneliness--
two separate pieces of the same glass,

real like no one else could be.
Heather Butler Mar 2012
The crochet needles are stuck
in my teeth.
The hooks settle in my throat,
dripping with
saliva and *****.

The calendar winds its way
through the winter months,
and it is still winter,
but it has been hot like spring(s).
The crochet lingers.
The white thread

I love you, but that is all I ever say
I miss you.
The blood drips down the alley
and God smokes a Cuban.

Death laughs. Death reds. Death dog.

Death to the death-heart, the dead-heart;
and I will ensnare your---
I will ensoul and be ensouled
because I am God.
I am God smoking a Cuban.

The wedding bells get caught
in the cilia,
and they are frozen.
I am deaf. I am death I am God without a Cuban cigar.

I'm sorry as I pick the dirt
from my fingernailed coffin tomb.
The abort-fetus clings to your ******.
You love your ******.
I never really liked mine.

The crochet grids lie in
woven embroidery dreams,
hot as fever,
cold as the call of the void.
Jump. Jump.
It is not autumn here.

But here, see, *I'm sorry.
Heather Butler Oct 2012
You are more like
a photograph to me,
a still-frame memory like that
picture of my dog when she was younger,

the one that was in an album
that got water damage.

You're like that.

Except your hair's a little sharper,
your tongue a bit wetter,
your lip ring might just be
more kissable these days.
Heather Butler Feb 2012
Hah, yeah, I get on those kicks all the time, I say.

Yeah, it's like, you know, yeah?

Yeah. I nod. The party isn't over yet.

You're not getting, like, you know, huh?

No. No, not at all, I say.

Sure, yeah, you wanna, hmm?

Yeah, I guess so, whisper.

Takes my hand in my head puts acid mouth tongue.

So, you, yeah, and me?

Nod. Whatever.


"Mother, won't be home tonight. Tell Pa it's okay to worry,
don't know where I'll be
when I'll be home
Love you."


Takes me bedroom hold the fort

Nice ***, hmm, you, yeah?

You're ****** as we.

Can you tell I'm the goat-footed balloonman?

Cry far and wee for me.


"Mother, taking crack-baby home today;
tell Pa it's okay to worry
don't know where I'll be
when I'll be home


And that was whatever far ago in party temple-house
of Solomon and concubines.

Yeah, it's like, brainwave, chemical fire, no?

No, I.


No, not at all. (Ofcoursenot.) -----!
Heather Butler Sep 2012
You have to understand
where I'm coming from, all right?

You see, I am this
little bright blue flower.
I am small but I am green and I am growing
up to the sun, yes, growing, though I am tiny.

And you uprooted me
carefully as all the others
when it had come time for uprooting,

but, then, you stood to a great height

dropped me.

I felt the impact. I know you thought
I wouldn't, but I did
and my roots were splayed out on the cement
mingled with dirt and tears.
I can cry, you see, did you know that?

And then, get this,
you stepped all over me.
Over and over and over you stepped on me;
you crushed me beneath your sole
until I withered.

And, you picked me up.
You gathered the pieces of me
into your hands,
your ungloved, ungreen hands,
carefully as all the rest when it came to dying,

and you put me back together.

I still want to ask you why,
because as soon as I had been
put back into the earth
you shut off the sun.

The god ****** sun, you shut it off.
So I withered again.
You never watered me.
I waited. I waited and I waited patiently
and I thirsted.

My roots are thin as are
my cell walls, my leaves, my membranes
and my petals have slowly,
one by one fallen to the soil.

I'm trying to refertilize myself, but
I don't think it's working.
Petals and dried leaves aren't worth much.

Eventually my tears dried up.
my voice became hoarse and thin and weak
like the rest of me.

I used to sing to the stars at night.
I am a nightflower; my leaves drink the sun
but my petals bathe in starlight.

I am a nightflower
but I am in a closet now.
It smells of old sweat and dead things.
It smells like everything you
want to forget about,

all the secrets you don't like to remember,
all the people you prefer not to know,
and me.

I'm still waiting, you know.

*Still patiently waiting.
You can come by any time you want.
Heather Butler Sep 2012
I do not want to burn that candle you gave me.

I'm afraid of forgetting
how Tuesdays smell,
or how it feels to fail at
all the things that don't matter,
and to let them go.

I'm afraid I might forget your smile,
your eyes in the sun,
the scent! the scent of lemon and leaves.

And memories linger like smoke
in my eyes but there is no one
else, no one else but you.

And I love you.

I am bad at keeping promises,
but I think I'll say this:
I'm afraid of burning that candle
because I'm afraid of burning you.
Heather Butler Aug 2010
I was being lazy again, but I wasn’t thinking of you until
the movie ended and I was left with the sound of
someone else’s happiness and someone else’s name.
I couldn’t help but notice how the colors blended to form
the memory of a café with eyes hanging from the ceiling by strings
and your eyes sparkling in the light.
I fell in love with you when you sang something I had hoped was for me
but whether or not it was I never asked.
The lyrics you sang were foreign to me and the thoughts you provoked
were lost upon my ears.
Too busy to listen I was mesmerized by your smile
never fading under the glare of fluorescents or in
the presence of my unabashed stare.
You left me happily confused in the front seat of my car
as you blew a kiss and waved goodbye.

I wonder if you still call me beautiful.

It’s midnight now and I want to punch walls
because I have to make everything complicated.
I’m more confused than ever and more angry than confused
and more than anything I’m still in love with who you are and what we were.
I wish I could talk to you but there’s too much you could find;
I’m not the same girl you fell in love with eight months ago.
There’s less of me here now and more reasons to hate me
and upon my shoulders more of the ever-present unhappiness
I’ve become more masochistic about carrying.

I wonder if you found someone better.

I hated myself then and because of that
I hated you for loving me.
The closer we grew the more I couldn’t accept your seventeen years
and the way you seemed to know that everything would be okay.
I hated your optimism and the way you made me happy
and I hated myself for hating you.
I didn’t make sense and I don’t make sense
because I miss you despite how I felt then.
My restless mind couldn’t stop looking for reasons to condescend;
everything I dislike about you is a lie.
I wanted nothing more than to tell you I still loved you,
but I couldn’t, and I shouldn’t.
In that hour I wanted to make you love me again and
I wanted to be in your arms.

I wonder if you ever think of me.

Someday I’ll find that movie you lent me and I’ll watch it again.
It’ll be like loving you, and I’ll feel your presence next to me
even though you’d be ignorant completely of my thinking of you.
In the night I’ll talk to the stars and it’ll be like whispering to you
and only the window will know how pathetic I am.
The world is crumbling like stale dessert
falling in pieces at my feet, but only in my head.
I keep over-thinking everything and my brain can’t take it anymore
and I just want to curl up in your embrace to your philosophy that
everything is going to be okay.
I wouldn’t believe you and I’d probably end up ruining things on my own,
but it’s moments of perfection like that one I strive to encounter.

I wonder if you’re still awake.

It’s getting late now and I’m still naked between
the sheets and consciousness.
I’ll wake up later today and maybe I’ll remember this.
My dreams might consist of you making me feel happy again
or maybe you’ll finally reject me.
In any case I hope you haven’t written a song about how much
I’ve messed up yet.
I’m sure you will someday but give me some time to get used to
the side of you that’s moved on.
Until then I’ll dream about cake and music and everything else we loved
when we loved each other then.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Sep 2010
Forever in a heartbeat, beat, beat;
a thousand heartbeats; a thousand forevers.
Somewhere the sunbeams catch your hair
alighting gently like sparrows at the tips,
turning each fly-away in turn a subdued golden hue
which radiates softly from your eyes.
Quiet sighs echo through the sheets;
Good morning, my love.
Unhurried, unworried;
Let's spend the day here.
Fading in and out, in and out of consciousness
to the sound of you breathing beside me;
waking up to feel your arms loosely pulling me back.
It's still too early yet;
though the sun has long since turned dark.
A crooked smile—the most beautiful thing I have ever seen—
and your voice telling me to
Dream sweetly. We'll eat in the morning.
Morning comes to rain; rain falls to autumn.
Beside me a yellow slip on the pillowcase reads
I don't love you.
I smile and listen for the sound of your footsteps.
I hear you, whistling tunelessly, and you call to me;
Have you woken yet?
As I meet you in the kitchen I find your eyes
and silently shake my head.
*I suppose one more day couldn't hurt.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Jun 2013
The pages on my heart
are empty
and the blood staining my soul
mirrors the countless stars—

Let’s make constellations
from my platelets.

As you push your way farther into the sheets
I will chase you down
in spite of my fear of small spaces
and of being enclosed in your eyelids—

I cannot stand to take myself away from you now
but it never existed,

this moment played on an endless loop in your head
repeating repeating
a lapse in consciousness—

You fall
but I can no longer
catch you.
Heather Butler Jul 2011
Ooh, crazy, crazy, crazy,* they whisper all at once, now, together.
You, you do not belong here.
ha! ha!

And the lights are too bright, god ******.
Still talking to her? Now there's a pity worth a princess.
A princess in a tower?
A princess with a towel
and a dragon and a trowel
but she'll never have loose bowels
oh, the chicken with the towels.
A few random moments of clarity;
I don't need charity.
It's a rarity,
I'll guarantee,
but prithee, why so far?
Heather Butler; 2011
Heather Butler Jul 2012
Let her go, I said;
don't remember her perfume or the way
her lips kissed yours
or anything of the sort

that might bring you back to loving her.

Let her go;
don't expect her to follow you home
as much as you look over your shoulder,
that sixth sense telling you

she's there and waiting for your love.

Don't forget me,
or time or anything,
don't forget your medication
while I sit here spitting typos

into a keyboard ignorant and dim.

Sound the trumpet;
send the walls of Jericho tumbling down
a day late.
The heathens did see it coming

and left three days ago, you fools,
you arrogant fools.

He never loved you, no;
well, perhaps at the beginning,
until He saw that we are nothing
but insignificant little things

incapable of love, true love.

You say I don't know It,
that book, that wretched book;
I know enough.
I know enough of preacher games

and so much of

Every one of us.
Well, it means nothing except what you want it to mean.
Heather Butler Jul 2010
She looked up at me then.

"What do you mean,
you're leaving?"

I sighed.
Sighing seemed like the
normal thing to do.

This was becoming redundant.

"Look, you understand
basic English, right?
What else could I mean when I say,
'I'm leaving?'"

Her mouth puckered;
she was frustrated.
I'd seen this face numerous times
in the last sixteen months.
I suppose I was born to frustrate.

"Don't insult me,"
she spat, her tears betraying
how hurt she was.
"This is just...
a shock to me, is all."

I shrugged.

"Can't help that, babe,"
I said.
"And you knew this would happen
someday, so quit your crying.
Your paint will run."

A sniff. Then--

"It's paintings like you
that make me happy I'm not
really smiling."
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Oct 2013
This will be enough, this time
where the steps summoned storm fronts
like cat-calls
and half-assed apologies into the 3am

This will prove the endlessness
of loneliness--
these the toads of your toes
as the tips of your tiny timid feet

But I will tell you not to breathe
the heavy shouldered burden burned into your back
because you are more than empty
mason jars and grocery

And you will not breathe,
you will not breathe--
you will think only of breathing
but you will not breathe in
Heather Butler Feb 2018
another sleepless night my red
eyes tired and tried
i let your words fall
over my body like ashes

dust to dust i have buried
the bodies of those i have
loved and carried their dirt
under my fingernails back home

three thousand moths will settle in
the brickwork because the light
was on we hold our hands

against the ceiling as we drive beneath
a train a superstition when you laugh
i see the shape
of your skull behind
your skin
Heather Butler Oct 2010
Handholds placed at random
and footholds where my hands should go.
Down below, the bored crowd waiting its turn
and above, a spinning red light awaiting the bell.
Halfway up and I've realized
I never learned how to rock climb anyway.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Sep 2012
wild, and free,
and I know your wiles and
want to free your

hair from its restraint,
binding it at the nape of your
neck and let the wind into

your mind and show you,
show you there is nothing to
hide, nothing to hide except maybe

the unread text messages from
her asking,
"where are you?"
Heather Butler Nov 2012
He was never your daughter,
not since the day he was born.
He was an identical twin to his sister, sure,
but your daughter? No.

I am dating your daughter, sir.
He has an assortment of ways to please me.
I love him, and he knows it;
he orders his ***** online to please me.

He was never your daughter.
Couldn't you tell from the way he looked
awkward in dresses?
The way he always cut his hair short?

He was never your daughter;
I am dating your daughter, sir;
but he is not, never was, a sister
to the brother who just wanted a hug.

"She feels like she's wearing the wrong decoration;
how would you like it if I put you
in a dress and paraded you around
in front of your friends?"

He was never your daughter, ma'am,
but you knew it.
He is not a lesbian, he's something different.
He is not your daughter, any more.

Certainly we all know
he wears things to hide his *******.
And while I know what's down there in his pants
he won't let me see it.

He was never your daughter,
but I knew that.
I knew when he said, "FtM,"
that he was something different,

something special.

"I want to be a pelican
and have a bag for a face."
"Baby, baby, baby."
"Where's my ****?"

I've spent a month with your daughter,
and he cannot wait to tell it to your face
that he's moving out.
Heather Butler Sep 2010
I remembered our hotel staircase
and was suddenly sick with longing for you.
In my mind you're as beautiful as ever
and your voice still floats like
young spiders' silk threads in the air.
All the midnight city lights only
serve to remind me
of how long it's been since i last
held your hand.
Could I hold your hand again?
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Apr 2012
It was
the staircase in the hospital garage.
It was
feeling sick on top of the suburb.
It was the pull of the estuary
the lake that isn’t a lake
washing up syringes
onto the asphalt where we stood,

It is that fence they erected on the levee,
dead grass in a wasteland.
It is the swan in your backyard.

It is the metronome of the blinker;
smell of your deodorant.
You rub your hands together by the steering wheel
and cross into the suicide lane.

It is your feet in the sand.
It was the moon in your hand.
It was the spool of thread
you could never get the knots out of.
It was the German your mother spoke
Heil, Heil, Heil…

It is the gas, the gas,
das Gas.
"Leave me alone," she says.
"Ich möchte allein sein."

*Es ist der Regen auf deiner Fenstersheibe: weinen, weinen.

Ich weine…
Heather Butler Aug 2012
I'm tired of beginning these things,
these word games, these chess pieces
dying to fall into the wrong pair of hands

pair of scissors skittering sideways along
the perforated paper trail

I'm tired of being too hot in an empty space
while your empty eye sockets face about me
my brain tingles at the electricity out of place.

three birds chirping eating breadcrumbs
hopping to fro and paranoid

am not going to grab your fingers, little bird,
and I don't want that ****** frog back

smashed against the pavement his eyelids flicker
as heart beats lungs breathe


I am sick of your words curling smoke over my ears
leaving trails of ruin in my hair
as your scent clings to my body like dew drops;

I am coffin-made and ready
hands crossed still and over my heart
and in the cold I collect your wishing well echoes

Well, I'm sorry.
Heather Butler Mar 2010
Outside of this room
is a house
with four other human inhabitants,
two dogs, two fish,
and countless microscopic things.
They are all alive,
they are all living.
And if I listen over the vent I
can hear them speaking
(the humans, I mean).
I think they are cooking, and
maybe they're smiling.
Just a small house around
this small room around

Outside of this house
is a city
and if I knew the population
I'd quote it.
They are all alive,
they are all dying.
Even the unborn
already has started its
undetermined journey to
And perhaps they are crying
(the born ones, I mean).
Perhaps they are
staring up at clouds or
ignoring the clouds or
taking the clouds for granted.
Wherever they are, whoever they are,
they are all a part of this.
Just a small city around
a small house around
this small room around

Outside of this city
is a country
and the numbers of the population
I don't care to know.
I guess they're alive;
I know we're all trying.
Whether it's trying to live
trying to die I'll
never know.
I have to wonder if
one of them is thinking of me
in the same abstract way
I'm thinking of them.
Somewhere, someone is saying goodbye.
Someone is saying hello to the
cold cement below.
Someone is polishing a ******
and someone is giving life.
Someone is replacing and
someone is replaced.
Just a small country around
a small city around
a small house around
this small room around

Outside of this country
is a world
and most of it I will never see.
Beneath the waters are
secret creatures
swimming and breathing --
different from us.
But we believe we're all
connected in some way,
twisted and spinning
and tangled strings
invisibly tie us together.
And I admit I sound repetitive
and cliché when I say
that this is
Just a small world around
a small country around
a small city around
a small house around
this small room around

Inside of this room
is me
and perhaps a million or more
of my closest friends.
To the left is a tub which
hasn't been cleaned in ages
and to the right is
a toilet with the lid down.
I turn on the vent to wrap
silence and warmth around me
like a familiar, worn out blanket
(and on occasion to rid this room
of the smell).
I think clearest on
the bathroom floor.

Somewhere, out there,
you're thinking of me.
You, and him, and he is, too.
(And I suppose I can't forget
you, dear reader.)
But me, I'm thinking of
dark red carpets and blue tile
and off-white walls.
The ***** laundry is all mine.
I'm sure most of the hair in the carpets
is mine, too.
I'm leaving my mark
and living and breathing and feeling
right here,

all alone in a little room
around my little frame
around my little thoughts.

Somewhere a snail
consumes a salad
in the middle of a field.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Oct 2011
I love you.
I guess you already knew that;
even so, beneath the stars
and winding cars

I love you.
It's old news, this.
Even without your caring
force, I'm staring--

I love you.
You say that you know;
you say you knew all along;
silly, go on:

I love you.
Heather Butler Sep 2013
"I love you"
should be a little more difficult to say.

There should be advanced language classes
revolving around complex sentence structure,
advanced clauses and arrangement,
complicated syntax,
so that
"I love you"
means more than loving anything else.

Ich liebe dich.

Te amo.

Je t'aime.

I love you.

Saying "I'm sorry" in German
is more difficult
than "I love you."

Why is it that in order to apologize for something,
I first have to learn about reflexive pronouns,
and reflexive verbs,
and that the same word for "the"
can also stand alone as the subject of the sentence?

Das tut mir Leid
is more grammatically complicated
than Ich liebe dich.

And yet one wonders why love
seems to have become so clichéd.
Heather Butler Oct 2012
Do not take this lightly, my love;
if I say, “I love you, my love,” do not take it lightly.

You know I ****** someone who wasn’t you, my love,
but I want to come home to you.

Do not take this lightly.

I am messed up sometimes, my love,
and you know this to be true, I’m sure you do,

so do not take it lightly, my love
when I tell you tonight that I love you,

when I tell you tonight that I love you,
do not take it lightly.
Heather Butler Jan 2011
You’ve gone to find what you had lost when you
Were young and we were young and love was still
Inside of us.  You took my words and to
Your end you left them there like cups to fill.
And now they sit upon the window sill
Collecting dust and bugs and rain like sieves;
They’re dripping, draining--- and we’ve time to ****
Before fall down our tears like autumn leaves.
But what you lost was love; it gathers cobwebs in the eaves.

Now by my side you sit silent, alone---
You say you’re shouting inside, but to you
I’m blind. Have not I well enough you shown
My love, my care, and feelings towards you, too.
Quite like a bird you think from you it flew.
It’s lost on you, and here now you despair;
And there to gray skies turn your skies of blue.
All lost, all lost, and whither shall you fare?
Once you are dead and gone, no, I shall not meet you there.
Heather Butler; 2010
Heather Butler Dec 2012
Is this hell?
Staring at the seat of your pants
I can see each thread of the denim.

Your deity lies on the sofa across from us;
this house is empty
except for the bed and your single barrel shotgun.

That wasn't me, I want to say;
you keep poor tempo with drums.
Is this hell?

You hold me close so I can hear you tell me
that you have to keep me away;
I saw your naked body by the knives.

This is hell;
we were going to have chicken tonight;
a one night stand salad of condoms.

I saw your naked body in the knives,
your naked body,
and the knives,

and a wild hog as I chased you down the road
as you drive off with your deity on the front seat,
and this is hell, I say,

this is hell,
and your naked body,
and the knives...
Heather Butler Aug 2012
for Patrick,
                    if he can still hear me

Rise, every neighbor!
Hear the cacophony of dragon fire
and the pitter patter rain fall of disease
pouring over your households this evening.

Catch that butterfly, there, boy!
And know that in your future you will be begging
to look as hideous as a moth
banging your skull against the roof of my trunk
as I drive away with your body.

You beg me
give me reason!
and I try, but it's so difficult
I don't want to live!
and what am I supposed to do to help
when you don't want the help I give?

And we plead to gaze at stars over the Causeway
going seventy in the sunroof as off in Norco
the refineries let go a blaze jealous of the sun.

The moon doesn't shine as brightly as I remember.
Maybe I was too young to understand light pollution
or maybe it's the gnawing away of the ozone
as my skin tightens and ages over my teeth.

Do you understand how permanent

Let me show you, this:
the vision you are trying to make me live through;
I will not let you force me into folding
your hands over your chest
while the embalming fluid grows stiff
beneath your cold hands.

I *will not
cry for you, if you bleed out your sorrows on a tile floor
or over a dark carpet
or crushed against the wall in your blue Mustang.

I will not cry for you,
but for the life you left behind,
the life you took, the life you stole
from me.


I have faced death with weakening knees;
I have knelt before the toilet whispering
please someone anyone
when it was too early in the morning for anyone to hear.

I have emptied the medicine cabinet of its promising contents
to find that nothing but
waited for me on the other side of ignorance.

and it rains lightly on Tuesday evenings.

Somewhere behind the doorjamb is a flute
being played by a breeze
through the window you left open.

The note you will never write is tickled by the wind
and a thousand sunsets later--
I do not forget you.
Never give up.
Heather Butler Jul 2012
for Daniel, again

It's like an image you stare at for hours,
minutes, maybe
--as you are so aware of time--
of the galaxies from Hubble

painted in blue hues or yellow subtones
as if to say, *This is your heaven,
and it's so far away.

Except it isn't.

I mean, it isn't like that at all,
because I could stare at the stars forever
and feel utterly alone,
except for the cicadas telling me

Hello, hello, we are here, remember?

It's like an image you could stare at
for hours,
a picture in a gallery
someone decided was art.

Except it is, isn't it?



You are off in another room
but your eyes linger here;
your laughter gathers in pools
of twine around my feet.

I can hear you echoing like
a Doppler effect in my



It's been a day but it's been years,
you know--years and so many
and for all the smiles there's still that

overwhelming fear that maybe
someday you'll be gone

and I'll be old,
or maybe a little less young,

or something...

Maybe tomorrow you won't call.

Maybe you'll never say it.



I don't think there's enough time
for me to---your eyes like waves--...?

And the music in my head
reaches a crescendo

when I fall asleep beside--,,

Heather Butler Dec 2010
I want you to remember everything you've ever done for me.
I don't ever want you to forget me.
I want you to stay for me, to wait for me--
because I'm selfish and vain
and can't stand to have you
not love me.
Heather Butler; 2010
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