i can't even find it in me to hate you,
and what would the purpose be?
you have colored my life
in every way i could've imagined
for years and years on end.
we must've fit together at some point,
occasionally i can barely remember
walking up those steps with you
closing the distance between us,
staring over your shoulder at the sunset on the beach
and that was the part that felt like a movie
and this is the part that feels like dying
and the worst part is that
i can't change your mind
and you can't change mine.
...i can't delete your number
if i have it memorized.
with my cheek on your bare shoulder
in my living room
past my bedtime
i am unable to let go
of the warmth
never noticed how tall you are until now,
with my body measured up to yours this way.
you know i want to,
and i know you've imagined it-
maybe when i'm a few more screwdrivers in
and a few beers for you.
i could make your legs shake and your spine shudder-
ask anyone, the rumors
i know what i'm doing
and i'll do it to you.
let's make the most of staying up together
drinking ***** in your bright living room.
you felt so soft and safe the first time you caught my eye--
falling so hard and fast into my life.
i can't help but wonder where you are tonight.
i keep you alive through a cd with the plastic wrap still on,
hidden in my bookshelf like a secret,
once i take the plastic off and listen,
part of us will die.
so the disc remains unplayed,
i only hear you in my mind.
i miss you more than i know how to describe.
will you wing back into my life
just as quickly as you arrived?
EVERY NIGHT YOU LEFT ME HANGING
WAS ANOTHER MORNING HANGOVER
it's hard to think that i used to smile at you
because now, all i do is frown.
i look at you across crowds and there's discomfort,
there are rough waters between us, instead of sweet wine.
i look back at pictures and you looked so at home-
remember when we travelled to New York City together
for a week?
you were, like, the only person I talked to that whole time.
so how come now we can't even have a conversation?
i hope school is going well. good luck. in retrospect, i wish i could've calmed the storm that always leaves us miles apart.
I've always thought that I was older than my age, always felt that way. When I met you at 16 I did not feel dwarfed by your 31; I saw myself there with you. But to you I was a kid, closer in age to your daughter than to you yourself. You never saw me like that, never even bothered to look.
I remember those lunch dates, when I was jealous of your fork, because I wanted to slip between your teeth. I wanted the privilege of your lips, just once, like the smoothness of water passing over rocks. But I knew the waves were dangerous, so I settled.
How would it even feel to touch you? I imagine that your skin would feel like sand because you always seem to slip through my fingers. I will never know how that feels. I won't know the secrets you don't tell me. Love can't sort this one out, not this time. But what can I do but stay? You give me passion, purpose, pleasure. Maybe this is enough. I will stand at this divide and never cross it. I will mind the gap.
It's been so long.
On my 15th birthday when I should have been cutting a cake with my family,
I instead found myself cutting into my hips with a razor.
My junior year of high school I would shake in my seat in every class, nervous over nothing.
Crowded rooms and loud noises made me cry
Like a baby, useless and defenseless.
I found out later that this wasn't my fault - not entirely -
My brain was a field of lavender and the anxiety was a locust infestation.
So they had to die.
But it's never that easy, no -
I wish I could have back every moment I spent the wrong way
Every time I pushed my life aside
Every time it was worse than I had planned
But still I would look at that pill bottle each morning and choose to let it collect a little more dust
Because I didn't want to be that girl-
The puppet, with the scars, and the issues
And Prozac pumping through her veins
Keeping her alive
Fueling her like gasoline
Because she couldn't do it by herself.
When you identify with an illness, you begin to believe certain things.
You start to feel like parts of you need to be hidden
Like the baggage you carry will never be celebrated as unique or diverse,
Like you will never be praised for your strength,
Only chided for your faults.
That if this were my choice,
I wouldn't have chosen this.
Written for a poetry slam. My topic was mental illness stigma.
I would never tell you this but every time I hit a red light
I wish you were in my passenger seat
So I could kiss you breathless like I used to.
We fell in love in March,
in melt and thaw and growth and new.
And like this state of exponentiality
We ended, eventually.
But we've conversed overtly since then,
You ask how the past few months have been.
I look away, mutter something about the seasons changing
But what I don't say is that the second spring comes back,
it's gonna remind me of you.
I've seen every ******* season but it hasn't been enough to take you off my mind
This was not the year for us,
This was a high time for breaking and shrinking and avoiding and licking and doing everything we could to shove the elephant back into the corner of the room.
It was no time for honesty-
Not at all-
It was good weather for morals to perish and for me to grasp your hand like it meant something.
This was no time for "I love you"
But we still said it
And later I talked a novel behind your back,
The same back that I read like Braille one too many times.
This is not the year for us,
And this brutal honesty now?
It's for every time I looked at you
Hands grow legs and travel up my seething torso,
A cross-country journey not for the faint of heart.
I know I've been bold but you even more so-
Whisper again. Your voice sounds like art.
Your hair was the color of a copper penny and your skin the color of milk. I saw something so bright in your ocean eyes but I never bargained for such chaotic waves. I am always describing you with colors, it's like you brought a rainbow into my clouded life. I was blind until I met you.
I always took your picture. Hundreds of candid photos; you were looking away in all of them. I should've known right then that I never had your full attention. And yes, maybe I caught you in the light just right but God, you didn't deserve a drop of it. I will never crave you again.
Sometimes you just have to delete the messages and move on. I scrapped the evidence, threw away the loves notes - billets doux, I told you, but you were never one for languages. Those candid pictures are gone, I deleted them. You will never get to see how beautiful you looked, and now neither will I.
This is love you don't deserve anymore. Maybe once, like when I let you sleep on my shoulder for that three hundred mile bus ride. Maybe when I put a corsage on your wrist and watched you smile. Maybe once, but not anymore.
You and I,
We've got a lot in common,
And let me tell the truth-
We're both flint
So we kept throwing ourselves at each other
Waiting for a spark.
It never came.
See, when we fell in love,
We were both tired and not ourselves
I mean every night I bent my knee and wished for something new to write about.
So when you came into my life, built like an oak tree-
strong and capable-
I wanted something close to that.
I've been kissing roses for so long,
But I liked the feeling
Of hands shaped like roots
And the weight of branches
On my chest.
I don't want to say it changed me,
But it woke something up, you know?
And maybe the flint didn't make a spark but God, you took a chip out of me.
Thanks for everything.
If you were a gardener, you made me bloom
In a comfortably quiet and dimly lit room
You planted your sweet rows of kisses on me
Force of a god, left me hard-pressed to breathe.
Sweet Dionysus kept pulling me in
And you made a vineyard grow up from my skin
Your fingers were twisted around me like vines
And harvested from my lips the sweetest of wines.
Your breath was the wind that would scatter and surge
Back arched like a seedling emerging from earth
Each word leaves a message, each kiss plants a seed,
Just look at the beauty you've made out of me.
One Saturday night I found myself stuck to the dance floor at Brick Street Bar and not a moment later I'm stuck to you-
And of all the girls in all the clubs I think we were the only two laughing genuinely.
Four dates later I stripped you down to nothing but nail polish,
And god we ****** for two hours
On a cheaply made bed whose frame was never built for such passions.
You fell for me over and over, and I for you-
There was a sense of urgency in your face every time,
Something your hot Latina blood gave away entirely.
Now I walk you home in thirty degree weather and cling to you so you stay warm
You wear the bracelet I got you for your birthday
And we lay asleep under the red blanket you bought because you know that's my favorite color.
This is how we went from two strangers pressing smiles together in a bar,
to passionate first lovers,
to something so comfortable and right.
TMB. I can't wait to evolve with you.
You see her one day and something's different. Every magazine is full of blank pages. Every billboard is empty. She is the only face you want to see and the only taste you need.
You touch her and her skin is soft like chocolate, but she melts. The verdict? Put away the candy jar. You diet for a year and nothing changes. She's still the only thing you want to make a mess of.
Six years later the realization comes- you were weak and she was there. It was only ever time and space that put you together. You spent every second of the past decade lying her into perfection until you believed every word. But the truth is, you were never happy, and neither was she.
The things that used to remind you of her don't anymore. You've been to New York City half a dozen times since then and never once did you think of her and flinch. Your body has purged her memory and so has your mind. You haven't associated her with Times Square in eons. There's ten years of nothingness between the Tuesday when you saw her and now. But nothing you say could change how that time passed or what it did to you.
And you repeat and repeat,
to yourself this time,
it should've been you.
My red velvet chair still carries the scars
From when you'd stab her with your 20-cent cigars
Dark cherry cola and dark cherry wood
You showed me the stars the way no one else could
My red lipstick stains on your collar & cheek
Enough tiny smokestacks to last us a week
The brand of your poison's endearing to breathe
Your bottles of scotch ain't a bother to me
You gave me all velvet and ribbon and lace
The dark purple mauves and the smile on my face
I'm really not gold but you made me feel more
I am no longer a concrete floor.
Thank you for making me feel something... Anything...
Your lips have crossed a continent to find me
And they're not stopping there-
You've kissed me in circles that could dwarf the equator,
Your words went on for miles.
You spoke of something unfathomable and I shivered.
I love you but I'm hurting you
What an idea-
I've spent a lifetime studying languages but I can't find words for this.
I look at you and there's so much to say but nothing's worth the breath,
There's nothing we want to talk about.
Silences stay empty here-
Maybe that's why you can't stop kissing me.
i still have that envelope of drugstore prints in my dresser drawer, all those pictures you took on vacations to tennessee and washington. you told me that i had lips like angelina jolie. i used those lips to kiss you. i'll never forget the way your black curls felt brushing against my shoulder. i bought you flowers and you were beaming as you walked downstairs, searched for a vase to put them in. i still think about your blue eyes and how you left your daddy's law firm because you wanted to help people in your own way, not his. i saw you as brave, tough, precious. i still pull out that envelope of drugstore prints once in a while, use those pictures to see you in my mind.
MLW, I haven't seen you in years but I never forgot.
It's been a couple of months since the first time I looked at you
with the nervousness of a kid on his first day of school
flashing in my eyes.
We passed the time by exchanging coffee-flavored kisses,
singing each other's favorite songs,
discovering each other
piece by piece.
It's been a little while since we started moving towards each other
since the last time I broke
since first time I tried to put us together
But you are still the answer to the question,
You are still the smoothest punch-line
These pieces of you have become my favorite puzzle
And the solution is still you.
A booming laugh
A smiling face
Your favorite film
My favorite place
A lipstick print
And long red hair
Too short a kiss
Too long a stare
Your skin is pale
And mine is tan
Your touch my hair
I grab your hand
Your cheeks are blushed
Lips red as sin
I'm thanking God
You let me in.
It’s a rose-pink evening on Pont Vecchio-
People rush past slowly, breathing in a thousand languages
A guy plays accordion and it’s just like the movies.
Later that evening we’ll find ourselves on the porch
outside the restaurant
With plastic cups of Italian limonata
raised to the sky.
Tonight I think the bubbles rising out of our soft drinks are what created the stars.
"To Tuscany," you say
and when you speak, your lips look
like a rose blooming in fast motion.
Your laugh shakes this city and my bones.
On the car ride home you're staring out the window,
And I’m staring at you,
Knowing that you will always be the star
that leads me home.
it's an especially flashy night at Brick Street Bar
but you're the most important light i see
your black tank top hugs your torso
and i slip my arms around your waist
almost as tight.
when you dance
your thick brunette curls dance too,
bouncing around your face
like steam rising from a teacup
i can't get enough of the way
every part of you moves in different directions
but all in sync.
we're actually laughing-
stuck to the dance floor at Brick Street Bar
and when we kiss
it's not the same as the sloppy make-outs around us
when we kiss,
our bodies stay still
and we keep a steady rhythm
with our tongues.
if love is a language, we're speaking Pig Latin-
in the deafening silence of a box fan in your bedroom
******* in the dark, forgetting how your face looks
so intimate and close,
so far away.
i don't have it in me to love you,
and you wouldn't want your friends finding out,
so that just leaves the two of us
shaking your bed
for fifteen hot minutes
to sleep on opposite sides.
IT STARTED IN YOUR BEST FRIEND'S BASEMENT
IN WHISPERS AND GRAZES
AND ENDED WITH A KISS
THAT SPLIT THE EARTH
ON ITS AXIS
I GOT YOU DANGEROUSLY CLOSE
AND KEPT YOU THERE
WHEN WE WERE DANCING
WHEN WE WERE TALKING
WHEN YOU SLEPT IN MY ******* ARMS
IN MY ******* ARMS.
YOU MADE ME BELIEVE
THAT YOU NEEDED ME
TO KISS YOUR NECK
TO COMPLIMENT YOUR EYES
TO BUY YOU DINNER
AND **** LIKE THAT
BUT NOW I'M APOLOGIZING
AND I DON'T EVEN THINK
YOU DESERVE THAT
BECAUSE YOU WOULD ALWAYS
READ MY ******* TEXTS
AND NOT RESPOND
WHEN YOU KNEW **** WELL
I'D CLIMB A MOUNTAIN
JUST TO EXCHANGE
TWO WORDS WITH YOU
YOU'RE A FEVER
THAT I THOUGHT I COULD SHAKE
I CAN'T BELIEVE I THOUGHT
I COULD SHAKE YOU
NOW I'M PROMISING I CAN
AND FORGET THIS
BUT LYING TO YOU
COULD SPLIT MY HEART
ON ITS AXIS.
I WAS WORTH IT.
don't act like you don't love me
because you do.
breathe deeper into the seems of my clothing when i hold you
and get a mouthful of fire-red hair,
when it's dark your pale skin
reflects light like the surface of the moon.
it's cold and you're far away tonight.
i message you-
you owe me a proper kiss
you say you know,
and some distant resolve chokes you
and i flinch.
it's more than sleep
or anything else
it's the way i think about you
when you're not even there.
"you like that, don't you?"
"i thought you were tired."
"you woke me up."
where are you and how can i be there too?
i was surprised at
my own self
when i kissed you
surprised i leaned in,
surprised i got brave,
surprised i knew how.
i don't know what it is
but when i was a
little boy my dad said
that girls were special
and you needed
guts to get a good one
and i think
that's what happened
every night i lay in
this bed we shared
and invent things
i could've done differently
i want to text you
tell you i bought
more poetry books
for us to read aloud
naked in my bed
i want to call you
let you know that i'm
still amazed from
the first time i
i want to see you
because hours feel
when i'm away
of a girl,
when i can't
hear your voice
or even Vizzini,
watch your eyes
light up when i
let you pick the
movie and it's
a corny musical
or a drama
or something i'll
call "lame" but
did it ever occur to you that i always let you choose?
i want to be the shoulder your hair falls upon.
maybe if my argument had been more convincing
or if i listened to more of your show tunes, read more Shakespeare
maybe if i kissed you harder,
touched you softer,
talked more, talked less
maybe if i were different
you'd love me.
"i don't have a sexuality. i like who i like." it's my philosophy and i'm hoping to god you'll pick it up.
but you don't.
because it doesn't matter that i dressed up for our first date. that i kissed you in your driveway. that i rang your doorbell, met your parents, shook your father's hand. it doesn't matter that i brought you mountain dew at work and let you pick the movie and held you on my lap all those nights. because at the end of the day, i was your experiment. and you're the chemist, in control. you've analyzed your data and drawn the conclusion. no matter what i do, i'm the wrong gender.
But our drinks were gone so we just kissed instead.
we start out sitting
down on the couch
next to each other,
but by the end of the second movie,
i'm laying on top of your
witth my face in your hair
and my hand holding yours
and our legs intertwined
and i honestly couldn't tell you
where my other hand is
or what my arm is resting on
or how long we've been here
but it's comfortable
and we're exchanging peaceful whispers
in the dark.
so **** whatever weird position we've ended up in,
i've got my arm around you,
pulling in close,
and the soft pale skin of
against my lips
and that's good enough
it was dark in your friend's basement -
and that's how these things usually start.
legs in my lap, noses too close.
i became a lightning bolt between your thighs and the light shot right -
because that's how these things usually end,
with a snowy good-night driveway kiss
twenty-five seconds, i **** you not
and keeping your secrets
in my mouth
i don't know what to say to you
or even what you're talking about,
half the time
but you draw me in -
pen and paper -
and i didn't suffocate when you held me.
it's really something,
how we can be like this
but it's still so hard
to reach you
when you're gone.
every time i see
a blue ford explorer
i check the license plate
to make sure it's not
the one i lost my virginity in,
not the girl i lost
my virginity to.
it's a habit of mine,
i don't know.
but one day
it is your blue ford explorer
and it is you
and i don't know what to do
because we haven't talked in a while
but your car saw both our naked backs
pressed against the seats
and i've spent six months searching for that
so it has to mean something.
we haven't talked since you left
and got different,
kissed other girls.
but i was the first girl you kissed
in your bedroom
wagged my fingers, pulled you in,
no more nervous evergy
just your nerve endings
maybe i'll text you and say i saw you,
we'll meet up for coffee the way we used to
until our drinks get cold and our bodies get warmer
but that's not gonna ******* happen
because you don't even look at me in the traffic
because you don't look for white nissan altimas the way i looked for you
because you don't tell me about your day anymore
because i haven't heard your voice in weeks
but you used to let me hold your rich naked body in the backseat
so don't act so important
like you never loved me
blue ford explorer
if that meant
you ambled through
the spheres of light
a score of
a silken dress
a velvet night
spheres of light
i only knew the house
as a distant memory-
a white shoebox
two and a half blocks over.
i figured it
right before the road turns
the house next to it is red
but someone bought that house
and painted it gray.
so here i am
while my sister
can drive this neighborhood with her eyes closed.
and it's strange
how this white shoebox
and its sickly shrubs
and cracked driveway
and folding chairs
mean so much to her
and nothing to me.
wish you didn't look so good
sprawled across the carpet
in your rotten makeup
with beer breath
wish you didn't sound so good
yelling drunken slur
across a stranger's living room
in your wrinkled dress
with your hair down
wish you didn't feel so good
laying on my lap
with your bare chest
and cold hands
i promise i promise you'll be okay in the morning i promise
i have never been good at parties
because your drunken speech
is such a lure to me
that the music seems too loud,
there are too many people,
the room's too ******* hot
& all i want is to take
from all this noise,
when she is drunk it tempts me
but when she's sober it kills me
so every party
is a lose-lose situation
and i envy
whoever's taking her home
l o o k i n g
f a l l i n g
"You're not a normal person."
I look up from my stack of papers with feigned offense. "Gee, thanks," I scoff. You laugh.
"No, no, not like that," you assure me. "I mean, like, you're more important. And I tell you so much more than I tell other people."
You keep eating your lunch and I stare at you. "Thanks," I reply, and this time I mean it.
For the record, you are not a normal person either.
p r o s e
You have a
in your body
that fills mine
like a glass
rich red wine.
And it's so cold outside.
So let's intertwine.
Fill me with your wind,
fill me with your wine.
lovingly to ABL, again
there was a map sticking out of your back pocket so i asked where you were going and you said hell so i burned my skin for five years preparing to join you there in the fire until one day you looked me in the eyes and there was nothing there to look back at not even a reflection hell didn't burn inside you anymore you burned in hell
"can't wait to hold you"*
if i had my way
we'd travel past Jamestown
and you'd drink your whiskey
i'd smoke cigarettes
my hair in your fingers
my head on your chest
sitting across from you in an ice cream parlor,
you admitted to me
"i only kiss girls when i'm drunk"
and my god,
how i wished
i could turn your water
saw your face
in a high time for loneliness
and broken lines.
made love to the sidewalk
for so many nights
that you recited Shel Silverstein
until the lights died.
i can't remember a word you said,
yelled your childhood, your love, that ungodly unrequition.
made love to the Bible
for so many nights
that you recited E. B. White
until the lights died.
you ate apples,
you became a tree.
you laid still as the moon spread her beams.
made love to the window
for so many nights
that you recited Shakespeare
until the lights died.