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Kiernan Norman Jun 2022
So what if-
What if we dive in?
What if it worked?

What if you let it fall-
What if I caught it and gave it back to you
without making a big deal of it?
I’m gathering dust- I stopped moving forward in the last few years,
but I have a weird feeling that I can try-
Like at least right now, while the city basks and blows around us,
I can walk again.

I’m talking about boats while getting a sunburn,
I’m growing blisters I’ll lance with a pin tomorrow,
but for now, I'm focusing more on exploring your hand.
I’m choking down Tabasco and talking fast,
you’re talking slow and listening.
I’m leaning back and laughing.

I’m the one who kissed you,
you’re the one pretending to be surprised.
I’m the one bringing up the hours we spent on the floor
all those years ago,
when you were young and I was mad,
and now, after half a decade of radio-silence-
I’m the one letting you **** me on a different floor,
across a brand new carpet that hasn’t settled flat, hasn’t softened at all.
I’m proud to have let myself soften.

I’m thinking about the way you don’t taste clean but I don’t really care.
I’m not as active as I’ve taught myself to be,
but for now, it seems like you don’t mind.
Keep not minding. Please.
For now, I’m okay with watching our bodies’ arc, thinking
‘goodness, this is just so funny’ and a little bit ‘will this make you like me less?’

Eight years ago I wrote a poem about you and people started to notice.
They told me how it netted in their own hurt and how it held them in a tightness they needed,
and that meant something to me. I never liked reading it-
there are too many flowers. It’s a green and pink feeling,
but now I know that I’m red and you’re blue.
I don’t think you saw it, or knew that it was about you;
I kind of hope not, It was dramatic, but so was I.
So am I.
I am still so soft.

While that poem was brewing, I was reeling,
I was everywhere and I was dripping.
I got a bottle of whiskey and gave it to you in a parking lot.
You didn’t kiss me then, and I let that hurt me for a while,
which wasn’t fair to you; you weren’t even old enough to buy whiskey.
But now you are. And now I’m not everywhere.
I’m only here. I’m still dripping.
What if it's less like leaking and more like watering?
What if it helps us grow?
I want you to be soft with me, I want the flowers
to start to make sense because if we try, maybe we can bloom.
kind of a follow up to my older poem 'i don't write love poems'
Kiernan Norman Apr 2021
I started puking birds-
I watched them fly south for the winter,
toward warmer pavement and fuller trees.

I started stuttering butterflies-
I watched them take giant sips from birdbaths,
We both know my mouth is so, so dry.

The thing about wings
the thing about things
the thing about trying to focus
and listen and nod while
My mouth is sticky and
my brain feels clogged, like a real
mess worth of paper towels
bunched and flushed in a panic
all the way down my throat

The electricity in this room is so loud
You keep talking, I look for outlets
You get annoyed, I turn off the lamp
You say stand still, I say I’m still listening
You say this is what I mean
I say I’m listening
I repeat what you said before you got annoyed
You say that’s not the point
I switch off the surge protector
I say it’s still there
you say that’s not the point
I say I hate this sound
You say it doesn’t bother me
You say if it ever does I put on the lofi-hip-hop-headphone-girl channel
You say think about it
I think about birds in trees instead
and if power lines are so so loud
or if it’s okay because they can drink from birdbaths
and fly south when they want to,
not just in winter. not just when the pavement is warm.

I say sometimes listening to you is like
watching a show with subtitles;
sometimes you are the audio and the electricity
is the subtitles, sometimes the
electricity is the audio and you are the subtitles,
and other times you are the electricity as well as
the subtitles and maybe there’s no audio at all,
and maybe the video is a few frames behind the audio
and maybe the subtitles are projected in reverse
like when you take a picture of a mirror
and maybe another electric note harmonizes with the first
and also maybe you’re having a stroke or at least
you’re really thirsty and you can’t unclench your knuckles.

You say now what, I say nothing
I’m on my knees, crawling the carpet,
feeling for outlets, scratching my rug burn,
unplugging sockets.

You say nothing for a moment
I listen for any quiet electricity still playing
you sit down next to me, I lift my legs up and over yours
I look at you, you look at my knees
you say I’m not annoyed, I say that’s not the point
you say listen
you say have you thought about microdosing
I should hear a punchline cymbal

I hear nothing, I don’t feel warm
I start to laugh then stop
I start to stutter then stop
I puke.
Kiernan Norman Nov 2020
I’m considering breaking;
something big and essential and shared,
like a four-way traffic light, or a water tower,
or smashing every lightbulb I’ve ever used,
and letting the glass shards spread across
The grocery store aisles,
And I’ll shop for spinach, and caramel, and greek yogurt barefoot,
To show everyone how tough I am.

I’m considering disappearing into the November winds,
I’m untying my apron as a walk across the yard.
I’m already forgetting what the dishes look like
and when the utilities are due-
I’m already exaggerating what I’ve got, and
intonating superstitions toward where I’m going.

A gaggle of humans fleeing the tolerable
should push, should glow and guess,
should smile while they walk away,
shaking off their receipts and sunken science, gratefully.

Ahh, it feels good to decompose -
so good,
so, so good.
Have you tried it? Really tried it?
Anything anxious, or stiff, or sad
sprouting inside of you is severed-
pried out of the baseboards with the hammer’s claw,
and flushed down the toilet leaving a rusty stain on the porcelain.

But then,
you become radiant.

You become a mystery; searing and traveling,
wrapped loosely in oils and gauze.
You become an emblem;
the blackest sun, the proudest eyelids, vaguest plans.
You become a fable,
picking scabs off your fingers, roaming sweaty markets,
utterly dissolved.
first poem in YEARS
Kiernan Norman Jul 2020
Punctuation becomes a commandment
to memorize,
to moralize,
to misuse.

A comma means a breath,
it means looking up at the sky and feeling very small,
no comma means you run through the cornfield like you’re being chased like your fingers are full of cramps like you forgot your shoes like the tornado siren is wailing and your not welcome anywhere with a door
Kiernan Norman Oct 2016
I crack soldiers inside crocodile batteries. I roll my shoulders. Everything squeaks.

I never meant to drop your hand like that. I'm a lot. it's time to claim the mute emergencies I've tucked into your days When you weren't looking. I'm the strain on your hip, I'm the hair in your sink. I'm always simmering, always smoky, always a little slow to  blink and I'm not enough salt.
I think God stuttered my name the first time he said it- I can never remember how the vowels go. If you think my tongue is too big in your mouth you should try it in mine.

have you ever written a letter and sent it to heaven? I used to do that every time it rained. crayon on paper, paper on asphalt, then you left it alone and it disappeared.

on the school bus in 2nd grade a girl was slouched down in her seat, crying. the driver stopped the bus and went to her. he was stiff denim, leather skin, cigarette fingers. 'what's wrong?' she didn't feel good. 'I don't know what to do about that.' the helplessness in his face made my ears ring. I never feel good. that's when I started thinking my bus driver was God. I kind of haven't stopped.
Kiernan Norman Mar 2016
Shut off the sky if I ask you to-
grab my world so brassy boring
between its battles and its courage.
I’ll arrive with cold hands and you
can bring the ghosts.

I smell dirt in the day and undo
things as I roam.
I don’t listen when logic roars,
but let it loosen in the sun
and sing my prayers through its marrow
like I’m blowing glass,
like I’m hatching galaxies.
June can wait a bit,
verses still spin sad
where you used
your knees on the good nights.

I tried the dancing.
I tried bleaching the blackened veins
and rusting ribs that held me together
with a smile brighter and stiffer than ever before.
It took a mirror and a shiner to remind me that was pointless.

Before was fumes.
Before was whiplash.
Before was my chattering teeth learning to limber over the back fence then dive into the novels
of your hands.

Before knew my night skin was something to flee and
that all betrayal
starts with moonlight,
isn’t that right?
Before knew that travelers
and wanderers
were taught to survey treetops and look to their shins,
but now I just jump.

You said you’d return with a body that wasn’t mine.
It’s okay if you lied.
I’ve tried to swallow the world between sheets
with a thawing mouth and sinking hips.
I’ve tried to whittle the scenery down to bad habits
and foxes tucked into the hills,
Illuminated just when you thought they were gone.
I’ve found a geography where our jokes are meaningless,
where our hearts are no longer the same,
and it is too gorgeous for words.
Thank you for allowing it.
Thank you for avoiding it.
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