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Meryl Wisner May 2011
I can clearly remember
the moment I realized my daddy wasn’t perfect.
We were in the kitchen,
and it was dark outside.
He said of course gay people should be allowed
to see their loved ones in the hospital and such,
but he wasn’t sure they should be allowed to get married.
It was disorienting in ways I can’t begin to describe.
You just expect things, think there are
things in life that are certain,
and then your dad isn’t sure gay people should be allowed to get married.
There is not a measurement
to explain how much my dad loves me,
It is without bounds.
I know that.
Of that, I am still certain.
But I’ll always have that memory of incomprehension,
when he separated people into an “us”
and a “them”
and I think maybe I was supposed to be in the them column.
We haven’t really talked about it since,
because if he still feels the same,
I’m not sure I can handle knowing that.
To this day,
that’s the only part of him that I’d change.
Meryl Wisner May 2011
My blood thrums against the confines of its veins
waiting for you to break my capillaries like you broke my heart
and pull it to the surface where everyone can see.

You left your hickeys like highlighters,
fluorescence on my skin.
Bit lip muffles and ****** sheets
We ended just when the *** was getting good.
It was some kind of beautiful
pulling those noises from you.
some kind of worship
I want to be the patron saint of your skin
of the flat shield of your sternum
of the way your eyes flutter closed when I touch you.

I slide into bed next to your shadow
and I want to scream underwater.
Butterfly wings,
you are a tsunami.

I’ve been watching dandelions
waiting to make wishes on dead weeds
The house always wins,
but everybody keeps trying.
And I don’t know how to gamble except
all in

I called you scared
but you have yet to realize that you are
Me, I’ve never been afraid of eternity.
But I didn’t see enough of your skin
to remember all of your tattoos.

When you run away I’ll chase you across the equator
where not even the sky’s the same.
Everyone tells me you’re not worth it
but one smile
and I’ll throw a lasso ’round the moon.

I don’t want you to know I’ve been writing poems about you
until you hear the way my voice cracks on the last line.
Meryl Wisner May 2011
Every story I write
has a quiet boy who loves words
and a girl he doesn’t quite understand.
She has a laugh that ricochets
and she makes the quiet boy smile.
She looks like algebra but is more like calculus.
She is deceptively hard to solve.
You don’t see her fault lines until you think you already know her,
but her plate tectonics only cause aftershocks,
never full earthquakes.

I always thought she was me,
always thought I wanted to be
that kind of captivating.
Enough to make the quiet boy happy.
But then I met you
and your quarter moon smile.

I always thought the girl was from some coast
but the first time I saw you in a bikini
I realized you don’t have to be from California
to have drops of seawater glow like individual suns on your skin.
I want you to drip dry
on my clothesline arms.
I’ll hold you up to the sunlight,
let your bare legs dangle in the wind.
I want to straddle your fault lines
and hold you through the tremors.

I always thought I wanted the spotlight
but I’m content
being the quiet one beside you.
I thought I loved the boy who loved words
and I wanted to be enough to inspire him to write
but you make me want to get published just to share you
with the world because
something so beautiful should not be kept secret.
You said you wanted to make the history books
and you will, but for now
I hope my poems are enough.
You are rainy day inspiration.
I thought I was the girl
but it turns out I’m just a quiet boy
who needed someone to
inspire me.
Meryl Wisner Jun 2012
This weather’s got me writing poetry again

                ; because it’s making me think of you.

I like your storms
splattering raindrops and
               thunder that cracks open the sky
but I want to be with you on your grey days.
I’ll laugh with your sunshine
and swordfight your lightning,
but I want to be with you on your grey days
; when nothing much is happening—
            except your eyes are clouded over.

I can’t stop comparing you to weather
which sounds ridiculous,
except for the way your personality is like the wind
I can feel it
             I can feel it
                          I can feel it
but I never seem to be able to catch it,
or do it justice with my words.

It sounds ridiculous
except for how you’re a forecast for my day.
            When your eyes reflect
bright blue sky and fluffy cumulus clouds,
I don’t remember how to frown;
and when your storms rage
            I know to stand strong against the wind.

on your grey days
as much as I’ll want to persuade that sunshine smile
to come out to play,
I’ll sit quietly with you if you want,
and let you be nostalgic,
in that way that
                                          always makes you sad
                                     but never makes you cry.
like how mist isn’t quite rain.
Meryl Wisner May 2011
There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to move too fast
doesn’t want to tell you I could see myself loving you one day
doesn’t want to tell you I put the pillows with the blue cases
on what was only your side of the bed for a few nights.

There’s a boy and you don’t call him your boyfriend
but you let him hold your hand in public.
We never did that.
But I feel like we could someday.
Like if I play my cards right maybe I’ll get another shot.
Sometimes I feel like I hope too big,
but I don’t know how to stop.

I don’t have White Knight Syndrome,
because it’s not that I want to fix you.
I just want you to show you things
like how amazing you are
and how it’s okay to be scared.
Meryl Wisner May 2011
Today I felt stagnant
so I hugged the sunshine
I rediscovered my belly button.
Today I felt stagnant
so I tattooed poetry
across the sky
I drank gasoline and
chased it with rainbows.
I ran until my lungs
spattering my chest cavity with ice water.
It’s amazing the things
you can do when you’re
Meryl Wisner May 2011
We kissed before we knew each other
in a ***** garage and a drunken haze
and I only brought it up when I wanted to do it again.

I don’t know if you remember the day
       I sat in the sun,
and you lay with your head in my lap.
It was the first time I played with your hair,
and I was maybe a little in love.

We would be a disaster
self-conscious and cynical
meets all you need is love,
opposites exploding, but
our fights would be quiet
passive aggressive like nothing else in our lives.

Still I almost kissed you at 5 am.
As we drove, we saw the sun halo the back of a mountain,
                                    but I almost kissed you in front of the airport,
air congested as engines idled on the curbside.
We hugged and I spun you
and letting go did not seem like an option
did not seem like a choice I would ever make
if I wasn’t forced

                                 Let’s be our own catastrophe.

You’re the first girl I ever wrote a poem about.
The days you asked what was wrong
were days I most wanted you to kiss me.
I want you to stop playing at quiet oblivion
and realize I’m just using your tattoo as an alibi
so I can press my skin into yours.
Meryl Wisner May 2011
Corner booth
Your eyes just pools of black
in the dim red light.
Everything else seems so far away.
Candles flickering like distant stars on each table.
On Tuesdays the band never stops,
just melts from one song to the next.
We smoked two bowls on the streets of Portland before we came
and we’re melting, too,
our cells leeching into the leather booth.

You’re distracted clapping for a drum solo when
my fingers flow over your knee.
I compose music on the inside of your thighs,
and your pulse keeps pace with the bass.
I’m glad I cajoled you into wearing a dress.

I can’t tell where my skin ends and the air begins
but I can feel the boundary between our bodies.
I break it during a sax solo.
They don’t let people smoke in here anymore
but the whole room feels hazy.
You a ball of heat beside me,
your huff of breath lost in the horns
I make sure you and the trumpet crescendo at the same time.

You are syncopation, emphasis in unexpected places,
I want to study your chord progression.
You’re Billie Holiday, backphrasing,
but you catch up for the chorus.
Sometimes I feel like we’re bebop
with our quick complication
but here we’re the blues, soulful and
something like gentle.
Meryl Wisner May 2011
I live in the words of other people.
I come alive as they come off the page.
I fall in love with fictional characters and
There are times when I only know how to feel in song lyrics.

I want to name my son
after a Weasley king.
I hope he inherits a penchant for trouble
and more heroism than he gets credit for.

Sometimes I feel like Sal Paradise,
and I have nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.

I put girls on pedestals and
have too much of a tendency to
yearn for that green light of East Egg.

I fall for Capulets,
but I wasn’t built for tragedy.
I still believe in happily ever after.
Meryl Wisner May 2011
You make me self-destructive.
I want to live dangerously.
I might skin my knees but at least
I get to play with the big boys.

You, you’re like drinking balsamic vinegar.
A taste is good enough it
makes me forget that too much is a bad idea.

I’ll trade cancer for the smoke in your kisses
because we all die sometime.
I pick melanoma over a world without sun
any day.
I’ll take the crutches happily
when you run out of things to break and turn to my legs.
Broken bones hurt well when they
shatter in adventure.
Your smile’s pretty enough I didn’t
notice your teeth were sharpened.
****, I’d read Twilight for you.
(I’m not saying I’d be a fan,
I’ll only go so far.)

You make me want to play
hide and seek in a burning building.
I don’t like heights but you make me
want to climb things.
I want to tempt fate.

I want to study your catastrophes.
I’ll chase your tornado temper
across whichever state you feel like
destroying today.
The drought on my lips is only cured
by the wildfire of your kiss.
I’ll bask in your heat waves
and build my house on the slopes
of your volcanic personality.
I feel like mist next to your
hurricane winds.

You say this is either
the beginning of something great
or the apocalypse has come.
But who says they can’t be the same thing?
If nothing else, it’d certainly be something to see.
Meryl Wisner May 2011
I don’t remember if we were enthusiastic enough
for our teeth to clink together.
if it was rough
or slow, quiet or gentle or excited
I don’t remember if you leaned down,
or I leaned up,
or maybe we met in the middle.
Your lips felt—maybe chapped,
or smooth, tingling, soft,
I don’t remember the moments,
the details,
but I remember the whole of it.
Kissing you, and
kissing you, and
kissing you.
I don’t remember how my body felt
but I remember that time seemed
thick like molasses
moving slowly enough you might not notice.
I didn’t trust the way I felt
until you smiled at me.
That moment I remember.
I remember thinking, *thank god.
Meryl Wisner Jun 2012
I’d like to climb the clouds
Leave footprints in the sky
so I know I’ve been there
and it’ll have something to remember me by

I want to see all the longitude lines
that are nothing more than constructs of our minds
Have you ever turned the map upside down?
Maybe the US is only hanging on to South America
by a hook called Mexico.

You don’t get what you see
because Mercator
wasn’t quite right with his projections.
Boy, was he ambitious though.
He took something
not even a quarter the size of the Sahara
and dreamed it big enough
to kiss all the corners of Africa.
I want that kind of determination.

I want to stop filling my imagination
and start filling my eyes
with realities of cities and seas,
valleys and villages.
I don’t have to move mountains,
I’ll go to them.

The continents are playing coy
and just because I’ve seen them more than once
doesn’t mean I know them yet
I want to learn their favorite colors.

I want to go far enough away
that I’m not afraid to never come back.
You know wherever I am,
when I close my eyes,
all I see is the horizon.

I’ll draw my own map across my body.
Haleiwa, Hawaii on my chest.
The hottest day in summer, her
shave ice melts into my heart to keep me cool.
Paris is on the inside of my knee,
so I can protect her, keep her on her pedestal,
like you always do with your first love.
Tanzania circles my throat like a Maasai necklace,
it glints in the sun and jingles when I dance.
Dublin’s like a freckle under my chin,
it took me a while to find her,
but now I know there are things worth looking for
And I’ve got plenty of space left on my skin.
Meryl Wisner May 2011
i want to be forever

in this frozen moment

sun-smeared skin

and the gentle buzz

of ***** and friends and the start of summer
Meryl Wisner May 2011
*** with you
is a workout.
Quick breaths and heavy heartbeats.
I love your sweat
and the way it makes your skin
stick to mine.

*** with you is a hurricane
violent winds strong enough
I’d blow away if I didn’t
grip the anchor of your hips.
I count seconds between
the lightning in your smile
and the thunder of your heartbeat
to know how close you are.
It is neuroscience.
Can you see the action potential
jump up the dendrites of my fingers
when I touch you?

It is a fistfight
it might end with
bruises and ****** lips
but it’s worth it for the adrenaline rush
behind the upper cut.
Later I can’t stop tonguing
the cut on the inside of my mouth.
I like the way you sting.

*** with you is a
wrinkle in time.
It’s the bottom of the ninth
2 outs, bases loaded
and time. just. stops.

It’s a SWAT team’s
flash bang.
The explosion leaves me dazed,
and I can’t hear anything but my pulse.
It’s any number of drugs.
Your tongue
tastes like moonshine
My body swirls
and my mouth rounds hollow
around the smoke in your kisses.
*** with you is
using all seven tiles in Scrabble
and landing on a triple word score.
For a moment,
I am invincible.

It is plate tectonics.
My body dips into the magma
of the negative space between your hips,
my favorite subduction zone.

*** with you is a math problem
It’s complicated and
it takes patience
but there’s not a word for the
satisfaction when my fingers
draw the last equal sign
and the red pen of your body
is silenced.

*** with you is like
I want to write our names in fire.
Meryl Wisner May 2011
I realized I liked girls
in the middle of 8th grade
volleyball practice.
My coach’s fingers slipped against mine
when I handed her a ball and I was
It was sudden but I was certain.
So after years of dreaming about
my wedding dress and what type of suit my husband would wear
it turned out I liked girls, too.
I spent half of practice
berating myself for being
weird, being
not being normal,
even though I knew it was okay.
I knew nobody important would
love me any less.
But those first few minutes,
I was too scared to let it be all right.

In high school I went on a date
with a girl without realizing that’s what it was.
We held hands and kissed in the park
but I was 14 and my life was so
I thought we were just friends.

In college I learned to get drunk
and let nights end with
sloppy girl kisses even when
my boyfriend was in the room.
Too drunk one night and so I
stuck my hand down her shirt.
When she took it off I marked
her everywhere because I knew
she’d want to forget it in the morning.

Still in college and
friends with so many variations of sexuality
I don’t notice anymore.
I knew you liked girls and I did, too
but I forgot that people only give free **** to someone they want to ****.
I was 20 years old and confidently bisexual and
my life was still so heteronormative I didn’t realize you were chasing me.
I turned 21 and held your hand under the blankets
and everything clicked.
We became motion
It was like putting on glasses
and realizing everything I
hadn’t noticed I was missing.
You were movement
and we went fast because
no one wants to find the
brake pedal when the windows
are down and the sun is out.
You curved diagonally across my
bed and asked who wanted to be straight.
We laughed and kissed
and you taught me how to touch you.

It was the best lesson ever.

I’d like a Ph. D. in how to
make you loud
I put more effort into you than into
any class I’ve ever taken.
You make me want to tattoo poetry across my ribcage.
You liked to leave hickeys on my shoulders
and I liked to let you.
The world was suddenly like
Loud and beautiful and
I couldn’t tear my eyes away
from the sparks lighting up your skin.

But it turned out to be a solar flare.
We burned bright and hard and fast
When we ignited I swear I could see to the ends of the earth
but the light died too quickly
and you gave up before our vision adjusted
You left me grasping in the dark.
I’ve lost my glasses
and everyone is blurry and it’d be okay
except I know what I’m missing now.
We were motion but now
I feel stagnant.

— The End —