brown corduroy button-ups, a bunch of sunflowers tied with red and white string, casting lines but not getting any back, an odd dream, pillow-printed skin, cigarette requests, fulfilling them but not telling, summer apartments, pantry shelves, hazelnuts, red wine, Taco Tuesdays, sleeping in, sleeping it off, sleeping the days away, ceiling fans, the fine line between receiving mixed signals and over analyzing everything, wanting to collapse that distinction, coping anyway, broken cups, broken blinds, broken hearts, a tiny tuft of laundry lint, borrowed tee shirts, mostly empty movie theaters, the cool cement leaf smell of literally every garage ever, the first frost, morning fog, panic attacks, bathtubs, bath-time, bathwater, a book terming Seneca’s suicide “a decision to open his veins.”
uncover the sick parts of me
and pretend that they’re gold.
bathe me in the firelight
but please don’t heat the water;
reach between my thighs
and scrub until it’s done.
i don’t want to remember anything
i like to do my crying in hot bathwater,
to fill the tub with glassy blues and greens,
all questions and itches and bloodrush fantasies.
like when i see people,
i’m obsessed with what they think of me:
my legs and my broken arm and my humor,
those flailing comments in recitation,
why i like glasses and hate skirts,
why i have a ‘pager’ on my belt,
why i don’t wear makeup,
why i like girls but not boys,
why i got with her,
why i broke up with her,
why i got with the next one,
why i started smoking,
why i stopped,
why i take medicine to numb up,
why it kinda makes sense that i avoid people these days.
does everyone think i’m an asshole?
my roommate tells me he does.
i’m insecure but i’m trying.
does anyone see that?
i’m dying to know.
like sometimes i think i know what
death in a plane crash feels like.
the crush of bodies and bones and seatbelts,
an even flare of warmth,
then snap-dissolve to white.
but those are just dreams, i think.
i’d rather die in this bath anyway, so
i shave and try not to cut myself,
though a nick here and another there
have me bleeding into the wet.
i wonder if i’m fucking insane
or just another narcissist.
maybe not. maybe both.
your red dotted sandals
were on the grass
(i saw them before i saw you)
and i smiled because that
bright childish pattern is exactly my type
i settled down a few yards away
(spread books and papers around me
to convince myself of worth)
then i looked up
is when i saw you,
all square jaw and big eyes and
i haven’t seen you in three months
(but maybe you’ve seen me?
i’m not sure)
I try not to look, to play it cool,
but i can’t help to watch you laughing,
braiding your hair, shimmering confidence
in the hot sun
i imagine you kissing her lips
knotting your fingers in her hair
and i feel sad
but that’s okay
it won’t happen anymore
but i still want to forget
so i lock in on work
(prostitution in india, one hell of a bore)
and then i see feet.
i look up and it’s you
i’ve never heard your voice before now
and the tone sounds different than i imagined
a little lower and pitchy
you ask me to dinner
you have some things you need to say
i’m shocked and nervous
is this reconciliation?
so i say yes
tell you i hold no ill will
that it was brave for you to come over
you nod your head
(the braids move forward and back)
and blink at me with those wide eyes
you seem confused, teetering on some edge
looking back now,
i think you were seething
i’m not so sure i want to go to dinner anymore.
given glasses and a haircut, do you think you’re something special?
yellow spit drips
from your lips
down into the basin
as you pause
between hacks and coughs
and deep vulgar retches.
you stink of vodka and fruit juice
and i’m worried sick,
dabbing your neck with a cold paper towel.
“my mother used to do this,” i say,
but you take it from me,
wring the water out in your fist,
and flush it down with your vomit.
i put my hand
on the small of your back,
but you slur “don’t,”
so i back away
and leave you shaking on the tile.
write a list, write a poem, go for a run, cook something, play bananagrams, do readings, call your girlfriend, finish your lab, check Facebook, tag your girlfriend in strange memes, text her till you miss her, feel it hurt, make a to-do list, do something on that to-do list, masturbate, file your taxes, read one of those fiction books on the bedside table, ride your bike, make your bed, listen to love songs, do the laundry, clean the tub, take down the old christmas decorations, watch a show, organize your desk, call your siblings, call your mom, ask for pictures of the cat, daydream about summer, about a family.
i dug myself a well
just to be alone down here
at the bottom.
ignoring light and sound
i sit, knees tucked,
on the damp leaves and crumpled cigarettes,
the dirt and the vine.
i will not look for answers.
i will not metabolize,
and i will not consume.
she calls for me above,
up there in the blue forever,
but i take a drag
and pull my legs closer to my chest.
i rest my forehead on
the cool, wet stone.
i know i need to leave this place,
but right now
i can’t handle anything,
anything at all,
so i smoke and smoke till
and i forget, fall asleep.
she’s got this clipped Boston accent,
warm brown eyes, and
freckles that you want to collect
and tuck into your shirt pocket, then
pat twice as a reminder.
she processes words in a swirly-brain current
that tides neatly with yours,
sudden silent trout
swimming through your favorite books and
a quick wit,
an eyebrow raise,
a pull at the corner of the left side of her mouth,
a laugh and eye contact,
shaking heads down low
this girl’s electric