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
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.
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
It’s like when you walk into a room you’ve been in before
but now everything smells of lilac
and everything is bright and everything is brilliantly blue
like everything is a little bit better less bitter than before.
But you don’t know how and you don’t know why. So you wait.
Until she walks in. And you hear her voice and you know, you just know.
Her eyes are the blue of the room, you could go jump right into them. She has the kindest teeth, the smallest hands, and the cheeks that chirp hello. Her personality moves through you in the sharpest way, but god, she’s so soft, you yearn to hold her.
And in that moment you feel that little speck you may have felt once or twice before, settle into your soul and course through your veins and make you struggle to breathe.
You can see it –
holding her hand, her bags, her waist, her jacket when she’s tying her shoe.
Kissing her nose in the morning
and in the night.
Having her children, raising them, feeding them, finding them, losing them.
Growing old. Telling her no, sweetie, you don’t need face lift. No sweetie, don’t dye your hair.
No sweetie, I’m fine. We’re fine. Fate exists, heaven is real.
You shake her hand and introduce yourself, choking on the scent of lilacs,
blinded by the blue.
we were just another white American family
bouncing around Europe, experiencing
the extravagant oldness of the world
for the very first time.
yellowing sheets from sweat
the outline of your body a flippant pear
how long till the screens bore holes in your eyes?
please just leave your room.
you used to have a square jaw but
you swelled from
and lack of movement.
if only your shins didn’t splint, you say. it’d have been so different.
maybe it’s just inertia,
this island you’ve swum to,
alone, burnt, insides aching.
but once you’re there,
you can’t stop.
everything folding into white
yellow roses press at
backlids of my eyes
steady rise till ringing
my edges untie
where are my hands
where is the door
i hope that
i’m thinking about the time i was asleep on your floor,
and you got out of bed
and crawled under the blanket with me
and took my face between your palms
and kissed me slow,
hands up under pajama shirts.
i pulled your hair and you moaned–
i laughed, because
all your succulents were watching us.
we didn’t talk at all,
laying there in the moonstripes.
instead we listened.
dark paneled wood hallway wide floorboards snapping lights flicker long hallway, could touch either side if i spread my arms out grimy window panes on the left side i’m with someone (i don’t know who) and they’re holding me, arms wrapped around my shoulders and my head is tucked onto their chest she or he doesn’t want me to look but i do i turn my head left i realized we’re in a funeral home the body of someone we know is being treated they’re dead and they are close. we pass the embalming room, flat slab of metal. fluorescent, sterile. in the next room, a man in all white is bent over, supporting the limp body of a dead black man with his shoulder. the dead's skin is grayish, swollen and shiny. wearing normal clothes, maybe a sweatshirt and nice pants. the doctor is holding clippers, and they buzz loudly as the doctor cuts his patient's hair. the neck is bent because this patient is dead. hair falls in fuzzy patches to his shirt, his pants.