I took a trip to the Caribbean to find you,
last minute and wild.
on my back
I floated, on the flat round plate of open harbor
it was late afternoon
yellow orange sun
light flares and salt skin
and then the dream breaks
I got to the beach somehow
it was crowded
many Muslim women in burkas
sat crowded to my left
sifting sand through their hands
and i turned and
I walked past all these students
they lay lounging
reveling in solid ground
backpacks and towels and sleepy eyes
one of them had to be you
I scanned their faces but none registered
(I was in a red bathing suit I think)
so I walked up and down
up and down the beach
empty and sad and longing for you
and finally I got angry
so I stood facing the water
wind whipping my hair
and I ran and jumped off the shelf
cold sluice and I
opened my eyes
and I could see
the gray teal shafts of light
and sea grass and fish and shells
and I got cold
then arced up and took a sharp breath in
(filled my lungs clean like you never could)
and bobbed in the water, crying
I wouldn’t turn around
as the sobs shook my chest
I’d face the open ocean and not you
or your boat
but then a grey shark shadow
and I panicked oh yes
I quickly fled to a dinghy
white and rubber and small so small
I climbed up and lay there in the hot sun
when the dream breaks
and I’m on the shore again
the group of students
was packing up and filing into this bar type of place
I stood at the door scanning the faces
and then I saw you
recognized you by the freckle above your brow
you were wearing your sunglasses and a soft pink maroon tank top
you were tan and thin and
and you looked at me with pity in your gaze while
the loose shirt rippled over your skin.
suddenly I was filled up with your thoughts:
I was pathetic not brave,
confused not in love.
the brim spilleth over.
‘what’s on your mind?’ the poet asked,
eyes peering bright over the typewriter.
i thought of your name a thousand times in that blip,
of boats and burial,
skin and lips,
bruising loss and spit.
of that black dark cave
with your red paper star light.
“a girl in Paris,” i told him,
astonished by my restraint.
(Metropolitan Museum of Art, north side. April 2016)
i’m sitting in a hospital waiting room. old bodies and canes and walkers and spotted skin. young bodies too, with tapping feet, anxious friends, and worried families.
i’m waiting for her to go in, to go under, to come back. i love her so. my chest swells and eyes well. i think of her there in that big bed, so tiny in the rumpled blue gown. i had held her hand. saw those green eyes go glassy as the meds dripped, so cold and clear, into her arm.
by now, the scalpels chink and forceps dig. blood, gauze, and suction. a mask on her face. slow breath and heartbeats.
in a cage on top of the island,
we tilt forward as we kiss,
and i wonder if the wheel
will spill us out
onto the pink pavement below,
so i squint my eyes open
(your face pressed close to mine)
you think it too,
for your hand grips the grid,
white-knuckled and small.
how can i possibly explain to you that
somehow i am both ends of the magnet
and every day i crawl into your arms with a
rope around my neck
screaming softly in your ear
that i love/hate hating/loving you
i don’t get why
two days ago i rubbed my arm with an alcohol swab to clean off the blood from a
mistake but not an accident
i don’t get why i mop up the mess as i make it
stop telling me to not let the demons win
demons will go away with 100 mm or 200 mm and maybe nausea call me in a week
because there’s only one demon and it’s me
finger to my lips, you slip the rope off my neck
polarize me until the room stops spinning
incubated in white
while New York City beats its rhythm outside
turn me over legs crossed eyes closed fingers curled with sleep
maybe, you think, maybe
i just might bleed to death
before i ever figure you out
i cry in the car
because i have nowhere else
to do it.
i only saw it for a second.
the deer had lifted her head,
as she tried to stand
with broken legs bent beneath
and hips twisted backwards.
she must’ve been hemorrhaging inside.
blood pooling and swirling around
a broken spine and femurs and ribs.
blunt force trauma’s a bitch.
she probably died right there
on the side of the parkway.
and i drove right past.
i drove right past
i scream in the car
because i have nowhere else
to do it.
i only saw her for a second.
Momma told me not to smoke weed
Told me to stay clean
Like she’s never seen
How clean weed can make me be
Set me fucking free
coffee cream birds
sit on the grill
of the apartment across the way,
their throats necking out in frills
as they chant.
water guns to the pigeons,
my awe to the morning doves.