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And Sometimes, I Sing Her Lullabies

The truth is, I am trying to tell you something
in a language I don’t know how to translate,
and it’s like there’s an ocean
where my heart should be
and I can’t remember how to swim.

The truth is, you cannot put joy
in a box, and getting lost
is the only way to find
what you never knew to look for—
but sometimes, you don’t
come back, and always
you don’t come back the same,
and it’s okay
not to recognize yourself
in someone else’s mirror.

The truth is, there is a monster
in my chest, and sometimes,
I sing her lullabies,
but she doesn’t scare me
as much as everything I want,
a need that is its own dimension,
rattling like a wind chime
in a hurricane, and I think:
I made this,
so, now what?

The truth is, you are standing on a bridge
with a lit match, and maybe
my bones are gasoline, maybe
my hands are tinder, maybe
my kiss is the friction
of the night sky
and new constellations—
but you can still go back
to where it’s safe,
there’s solid ground
and old miracles,
and it would be alright.

The truth is, instead of safety,
I would rather drown
or burn, throw all the windows open
and laugh in the rain, meeting
like ink clinging to fingers,
unexpected, a beautiful darkness,
like laughter trailing
through a kiss, unhindered
and insanely free.

Categories: poem, Poetry, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Placeholder

March 31, 2017 2 comments

(after Marty McConnell’s “treatise on the nature of non-abandonment“)

 

Anything can happen. A fire,
drinks, a kiss in a bar
neither of us can remember
the name of—one more secret,
rain-soaked in an old city,
or a new one,
I would go there with you,
which is to say: anywhere.

You are real, but your body
was once a stranger,
your laugh unfamiliar,
your kiss undiscovered.
Now, you are backroads
and crisp air in October,
your face
a book I can’t stop reading,
a favorite place.

I’ve kissed men
who couldn’t remember
my birthday, but you
know how I take my coffee,
how I always pull at my sleeves,
how I take forever to unpack—
but what do you want?

This is me: carefully reckless,
a hurricane of words,
a collection of left-behind sorrows
that seemed so big, once,
but now, they’re an old chapter,
a too-cluttered page, the wrong metaphor
and too many goddamn
parentheses—
and we are not that,
no punctuation, no pause,
no end stop.

And the truth is,
I didn’t know how many languages
a heart could hold, a mouth,
a tongue, a miracle.
The truth is,
I want to kiss you
while I’m making dinner,
decide your place
or mine, or ours,
or somewhere
in between.

Somewhere, someone whispers
caution, but I don’t know how,
and maybe you wouldn’t
love me if I did,
but it’s hard to imagine
a universe
without you in it,
and I’ve spent three decades
losing people
like misplaced keys,
turned backs, unsaid goodbyes,
a listing of loved ones
in a newspaper—
and my name’s not there.

There’s always chaos
in the left-behind,
like how I used to love escalators,
but now I’m afraid of heights,
an unstitched seam in a heart,
the way ink stains
everything you make
and unmake—
always messy.

Anything can happen,
so bring me all your imperfections,
every bad break,
the monsters that live
in the dark of your heart—
maybe it’s time to share bread
with all the possibilities,
make new keys
to old doors, reimagine
life from this moment,
seeing you on a street corner,
deconstructing the unsaid,
the way bodies
crash together like worlds—
ruin yielding as a placeholder
for what
comes next.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized

Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point*

March 1, 2017 2 comments

Because I have swallowed silence
as perfect as a thousand empty forests,
all bark and no bird.

Because sometimes
I try too hard,
but I don’t know how
to stop—I don’t know
the curve of the word
less.

Because I am lost
and leave you breadcrumbs
in a place
no fool would ever follow,
not out of habit,
but out of hope.

Because I don’t know how
to ask the right questions,
so I say nothing.

Because I can say
I miss you
in three different languages,
and I love you
in five—one of which
uses no words.

Because I want
and that is the beginning
and end of everything.

 

 

*Title from Blaise Pascal.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized Tags: ,

the shape of things

February 23, 2017 1 comment

Let your bones
become a safehouse,
remember
that your sternum
is like armor for your heart,
but let it keep time
anyway, the tick
of truth against your ribs,
spine like a scaffold,
steady steel—
sometimes the shape of things
changes, sometimes
you soul breathes
like blown glass:
make art out of it,
every shatter,
every shadow,
every monster howling
in your stomach.

Because this is how you make a new world:
footprints in unfamiliar rooms,
uneven stitches, the rough kiss
of fog through old streets,
a constellation of stained glass,
one color for everything
you cannot bear to leave behind,
a garden full of winding grief,
a sky full of songs
that were once stars.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

all riot red

January 27, 2017 Leave a comment

If you believe
love is a bone
you can set right,
I will not argue.
This is not science,
and we are not atoms
splitting, hands
are not gravity,
but a kiss
will spin the universe
like a kaleidoscope,
fractured glass
wondering if it’s still beautiful—
does everything
that’s broken
still sing the song
of its old self?

If you believe
an apology is enough,
that it does not sit
like a grenade
in every weak moment,
I will not argue.
This is not a war,
nobody wins,
and every heart
goes hungry
as a consequence—
did you know
that souls have ribs,
and during lean times,
you can count them
like excuses?

If you believe
I was a door marked exit,
a holy heart
curved into a mistake,
I will not argue.
This is not a prayer,
and I will not perform
forgiveness like a sinner—
all riot red,
all wine,
all trust,
I know what it is
to be an unexpected martyr.

To believe is to make
a choice between desire
and expectation,
to patch a wall
in a house with no roof,
to mend the moment
with quicksand,
to forget the sky
and worship only the root—
but you cannot unmake
the way two souls touch,
in this, we are magic,
unforgotten,
lost in a thousand things
unsaid.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized

Gods and Monsters

January 16, 2017 Leave a comment

(I had submitted this to Rattle for their Poet’s Respond section, but they selected something else. I still feel as if this is important, so I’m sharing it here. This was the statement I wrote to go with it: At about 1:30 am, steps were taken to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). This has been initiated without a suitable replacement, which will lead to millions of people to die. Among other things, the ACA ensures that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied insurance (pre-existing conditions include common things such as diabetes and pregnancy). You can read more about it here: http://www.npr.org/2017/01/12/509441874/senate-takes-first-step-towards-repeal-of-obamacare.

This poem is directed toward every Congressman/Congresswoman and Senator who looks at this potential repeal favorably.)


 

You have rearranged the bones
of your service,
made a false god
out of every
undignified inch,
not content
to eat your own heart,
you have savaged
everyone else’s,
instructing the future-dead
to thank you
for the gift of pain,
this sacrament of fear.

Holy are the thorns
of the self-righteous,
grateful is the stoned wife,
sinful is the leper—
this is your legacy,
turning wine
into water,
then offering it
to parched lungs.

The hour is late
or early, dark
and noisy,
it should be full of silence,
but yours
is an angry grace,
but
your god
is not my god,
for you have lit
candles
with other people’s lives,
aghast
at their screams
as they are burning,
you tell the poor
to be honored
by the lesson
of hunger
and wanting,
but try as you might,
you cannot make a man
out of nothing,
and when everything is ash
and ruin,
no one will say a prayer
for you, no one
will even speak your name.

the dark of my heart

January 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Some days, I am all scar
and not enough skin,
kiss like the crash
of waves
on rocks
in front of a dark lighthouse—
heart singing a song
that no man should follow,
all hip and promise,
all jealous grace.

I do not tell you of the drowning,
the way water slips
from mouth to lung,
how salt brines bones,
or the current
inside the dark of my heart.

Yes, I am sea glass.
Yes, I am the fog
on a window,
the want of steam,
a temporary picture
of maybe,
a clash of moon
against the tide. Read more…

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized