Saturday, January 31, 2009

sure you did

you used missing the bus
as an excuse not to come over last night,
and as i looked down at the phone,
seeing red
i realized
it wasn't just a cliche, i
really was,
as my nose ignored
the rules of engagement and broke
the dam, scattering
drops of blood across my book's
wasn't even my book, but
the library's
so i smeared my blood
into the paper
with the side of my hand,
trying to wipe away
the stain your lack
of consideration leaves
on my mind.

it didn't work
i awoke at three, trying
to remember if you called
when you said you would, which
you didn't
and i lay staring
at the ceiling in
the bed you were
supposed to be
warming with me,
wondering why it is
you find it
so fucking hard
to hold me

Friday, January 30, 2009

"i need to be more careful with you."

yes, you do, but
not in the way you're thinking,
in the sense of us both making
decisions we're too smart to,
on taking needless chances
with our bodies

all these things pale in comparison
to the things that live in my head,
what lives between my hesitancy
and your tendency
to run

we should handle like fragile eggs
what we have in the small moments,
what we create at our table,
and savor all our smells combining to say
home, you are home, home
in my arms.
so yes, let's be careful
to preserve
what home we have,
let's not get so caught up
we make mistakes
with the spaces between us,
but don't be careful
with me,
let's just burn

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the exclusive, by permission only, writers' room.

just walking in gives me
the shudders
naturally, it's got to be
stifling in here,
work-strangulating rather
than inspiring, sitting so silently
as if noise can forever interrupt
the sentence you're composing in your head
as if any single thing
could disturb you, the writer,
the special breed.

i write in crowded spaces, compose
in my head beside the copy machine,
crouch in the bathroom stalls to
scribble, it's not
so earthshaking as others
try to make it seem
the best writers go at it
wherever they can, in between
the chaos of their lives
we've all got our own process but
don't think it's brilliance, no
it's obsessively applying ink
to paper, hoping somehow
to capture something in a way
that seems you could almost
reach out and touch it

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

distraction sex

two days ago i lay
naked with a college friend, discussing
the lovers we were attempting
to leave behind,
discussing the futility
of our efforts

i said,
my life now could branch
into a thousand directions, none
of which will involve children, nor
and all of the stability
those things imply

and regardless
i’ll be just fine. but
if these things are
to be, they will be
with you,
my love

my friend said, "i
always wanted to fuck you
to understand
what it’s like to know
what you want so well,
and be unafraid
to reach for it."

it is hardly the absence of fear,
merely the knowledge
that nothing is possible if
i do not open the door, invite
something in, and leave it ajar

hoping, this time
what comes in
will not involve robbery.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

there are worse places to be

in your bed isn’t one of them, although
when not fucking
we spend the time agonizing over where we are
or aren’t going

you spin in circles

i let life take me
where the current flows.

but it’s all too obvious
we’re down the same river – whether
we want or not to tether
together is still unclear, like every decision
we’ll make
in the next year. nothing is static.

this, i know – we are unwillingly magnetized,
polarized, pulling together as we attempt
to separate.

i try, in my way
to leave – i’ve got
my retainer of meaningless people i call
to entertain and distract me,
the ones i trample trying
to forget you,
these small and useless things

much like the open three-pack
of condoms you couldn’t manage
to finish, not even
with that girl you used, again,
as an excuse
to run
from me

she exists
as two
used condoms, two
shitty snapshots
in your photo archive,
a meaningless moment you ran from too,
for running is always simpler than remaining.

your flight pattern straight back
into my bed, asking me,
"tell me what to do,"
as if i could plan your life
for you, as if
i’ve somehow got more of a clue

the five years you’re got on me are as useless
as all your justification
for why i'm not quite 'right'
although when i tried to make you say it,
all you could muster was, "well
i wouldn’t say never."

this does not come
with a consolation prize.
there are no substitutes
this time.

so i’m nursing more beers
than i have the right to drink,
and when i call the next girl
i’ll use as a temporary you
i will be drunk.
otherwise i
will lose my nerve
halfway through her door as she tugs
me by my beltloops

and when she strokes me, when
she makes me come,
the name
i will be repeating over and over
in my head
will be yours.

Monday, January 26, 2009


sometimes i want to obliterate these
pages, the helplessly
hopeful verse,
i want
thick marks obscuring
what i cannot bear to see
without my throat swelling to
the point where
i cannot
even speak

Sunday, January 25, 2009

what sticks in the mind

the nape of your neck is what
i'm remembering, i certainly
stared at it long enough
as you buried your face into my
collarbone, burrowing into my throat
as if searching for something
that cannot be found without
digging underground, without
turning away
from the sun.

i always wondered
what you found that far inside of me
sticking to my flesh as you slept
not beside, but on
sweat gluing us
to the bed.
stretched out side
by side, that was all it took
for you to curl into me,
shove yourself into the hollow
of my neck
and i stared at you, your nape
naked through your thick hair
and i ran my fingers through you
wound my fingers in your hair and
brought your head
to face me

Saturday, January 24, 2009

beginning with someone else

"who breaks the thread, the one who pulls,
the one who holds on?"
- James Richardson

we both break it - pull
so hard it snaps and recoils,
us with the suddenly slack ends
left grasping only a piece,
of many things and beginning
of none
so i drop that cord, leave it
like the gutter refuse it is
and walk on, kicking
at cracks in the sidewalk
i can't ever believe i
thought of telling you even half
of what you know of me,
which is still
hardly the tip
of the iceburg

Friday, January 23, 2009

the stand

and i think
what she wanted
was someone to save her
from her rut,
could take or leave
which is fine, i
took her
and left.

or rather
she did, tiptoeing out
of my bedroom
the morning after

Thursday, January 22, 2009


when we wrap ourselves
into the cloth of our beds, i wonder
how many hours
you spend
just like me, how many times
you've wanted to call, but didn't

i wonder how many years it will take
for the memory of the way
my body feels
to ease into the back
of your mind

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


i want to know
your expectations.
you are here, eyes heavy and purple
head sagging towards the table,
staring at me, always
into me.
i want to know what
you are doing here, why
you still insist
on paying for the dinner
i do not want
that you desire
i order
you gaze
intently as if expecting
some performance
don't know what you find, don't
see in my mirror where
your fascination lies.

my face pale
and drawn, stoic and lined,
my mind
too tired to try
for polite conversation.
is nothing left to say
between us.
we let silence ring heavy
in the air and
you stare.
what the fuck
are you expecting?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


i will run
far enough to get
shot of you

but until i
become that cold, i'm
apologizing to my roommate
i'm crying passing out
from my dinner of beer
into your bed

what do you have to be sorry for,
he says, and
i think,

there is not a moment
of the past year
i do not wish away

Monday, January 19, 2009

chaos coinciding

winter cold
the stench of the city streaming
through my bones,
diesel trucks
clouds of smoke spewing
from the smokers loitering
on every corner,
men with
nauseating cologne
applied so thickly i can taste it
when i walk past
the smell of ozone
in the rain, wet concrete
the constant clatter of well-heeled shoes
burnt espresso wafting combining
with greasy restaurant exhaust vents
i am
surrounded by stupidity so thick
i feel like gasping for air
stuttering, strolling
shitfaced drunks,
demanding dollars as if
i had anything
to give

Sunday, January 18, 2009


say i'm sitting
at a cafe and you trip over me
maybe you work up to it after
watching me on the bus
for days
maybe i step on your foot
in some inane line or i
talk to you
when you're trying to read
on the train
and you humor me

and then again maybe
you don't exist
yeah maybe the next time
i'm staring at you, i'll
find myself
looking through you like
a foggy windowpane -
image shaken, but
still recognizable

Saturday, January 17, 2009

who would you like me to be?

with you, i say my lines perfectly
as if i were winning awards
on a stage

i give you a nice, ironic one-liner
the last word
is always mine.

you, staring after me
with that look on your face i
can't quite place
into the way you say
you feel for me
like you're expecting something
around the bend that doesn't come
so intently

you read like an open,
well-worn book with the spine
at a favorite place

Friday, January 16, 2009

an unnamed, unspoken thing

strangers on the train, trying
to avert their gaze
the tension that ripples between them
the fascinated examination of the floor
which is streaked with rainwater,
and dingy grey bootprints
the pure blackness of night outside
the windows
reflecting only the distorted image
of myself.
i keep hoping if i stare
long enough, everything
will dissolve into patterns
without coherence or order -
the image i imagined looked blank
i stared out the window, but
it's more like feral,
so no one meets my eyes.
i do not mind.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

they called me 'scary'

if i saw myself
on the street, i
wouldn't talk to me

all flapping long leather
trenchcoat and boots
to the knee, black
head to toe,
frozenfaced in permascowl

i understand now
why people are afraid of me

when i walk i move
like i have somewhere to go,
which i do
i go deliberately, placing precisely
thumping pavement with my long stride
peering out of my uniform noir
at the suspicious world, as if
i don't like
what i see.

i would be wary of me.
those who ask me why
i'm not afraid of walking alone
in the dark night
have not seen the apparition i become
when stalking the streets.

"a woman like that is not a woman, quite."
- Anne Sexton

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

this bitter winter

you hug me so tightly like
it's hard to let go
i lean stiffly into you, reminding myself
to put my arms around you
i'm supposed to do),
i'm too tired
to get closer, i won't invest.

you look older, sadder. i look like
a tragedy mask
from a play,
into my role.

you move closer to my side, bumping me
as we walk,
i'm trying hard not to touch you
too raw, too much
after the sensory deprivation.

months ago we lay face
to collarbone, hips, knees and
legs intertwined.
these months i've spent in my bed, holding
my pillow.
no one touches
my skin and if they
move toward me, i flinch away
it's too much to want something
so fiercely that you cannot,
will not have.

you soak my touch like a sponge
and i cringe away,
so you don't notice
when i put a few more feet
of distance
between us

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

take nothing personally

you sometimes don't, and
sometimes do
leave a mark.

so i'll be in the bathroom now,
washing the scent
of your fuck-and-run
off my body.

Monday, January 12, 2009

red velvet

for a week, i drove
past the armadillo's armored body,
back & forth,
to and from
the obedient girl i was imitating,
the diamonds on my left hand.
every time i passed his still form,
i thought
about the red velvet cakes they'd make
for the grooms' cakes at weddings,
grey frosting caked
into the armor of an armadillo.
the idea
was for the cake to resemble
the roadkill.

this road armadillo resembled
the cake at first, lying
on the center yellow lines
as if sleeping off
a night of rooting. i skirted him carefully.
when he split open
in two days, his red velvet insides
peeking at my headlights,
i rubbernecked past
the hit & run, staring into his center.

three more days transformed him
into a lump, small pieces flung
across the highway
and as he worked into a smear, i swerved
to avoid him
and thought about my own wedding:
when i saw my fiance's roadkill cake
would i disappear as swiftly
as my dead friend on the road?
my young stomach churned on it.

on the seventh day, as i drove
after canceling my marriage, i
let my gaze slip to my bare left hand,
my own empty body, and i hit
the armadillo, tires thumping over
the greasy lump that had once been
a grey thing, and then pink, and later brown
and as i struck him
i imagined the heap of flesh against the wheels,
my mind saying,
"ugh. guts
on my tires."
but when i looked
the thing had left no mark
of its body.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

on being spokesman

we don't have to dig down
far, to find the selves
we used to embody
we still store them beneath the skin, or
in my case on,
visible within the dermis and
for acknowledgment.
marks holding their silence
in patient anticipation
and yes
one day i'll be dealing with this
more publicly than really anyone
deserves to display
telling them not to tread down my path,
and knowing
i'm far too late
for the ones who really
need to hear it