I left my star there,
But that's just the beginning.
I left my blue-eyed boys and
Late night talks in the dark.
Pink Hollister birds strewn over
Blues and Greens.
My pictures could tell my story
on their own
If I had kept them in order,
Rather then jumbled and mysterious
Like the cards he dealt me
Seasoned with the magic I pretended
But that last picture stands out,
With you grimacing off to the side.
I'd swear I saw a smile when
I last checked but dear
Cameras never lie.
And now all I see is the
Slow timeline my flash revealed
Of my arms around your best friend's
Waist; but jealousy found the best
Revenge in a dirty girl's hotel room.
You know just the way to make me sick.
And I pour out these
After three days of
Tearing off your layers,
But I'm not so sure I like what I see.
I wish I could wrap you back up
And somehow make us whole again;
Garnishing you with the
Tiny pink birds that make you
Black and White
And maybe timing really is everything.
The timing of our silences entwined beneath creaking staircases,
three pale bodies huddled on that dusty mattress enclosed within unfinished walls,
and the bare pipes that peak through at us, metallic and frosted.
Soft, nondescript sounds are muttered by the television set, and they slip through our pauses like rainwater through street grating,
contrasting against the gradual stain of an aftertaste
burning like pure vanilla extract behind my teeth.
I'm counting the seconds between when she closed her splintering door
and when you invited me back down into the deconstruction,
coupled with the heavy tick of clocks in every room weighing on my answer.
I am racing in stride with a minute hand,
heaving it backward so I can just get back there somehow,
before I release that yes or that no like a warm breeze,
before the pipes glean at me once more, smiling teeth in a room too cold.
But if timing really was everything,
You would have known that last night was not the time to shed yourself as you did,
to proclaim a truth that I disregarded like empty bottles stacking.
And I'm still considering traveling into the unbuilt,
I'm riding trains there and back but incapable of shedding any piece of you
at every passing concrete station, as I thought would be so easy once.
So I've mastered the art of becoming pure memory;
clinging to your thoughts like a ghost behind your eyes but never
any sheer substance, fadingly tangible once the wisps of memory are formed.
But somehow you claim you feel all of it, everything,
to see me, presenting myself in front of you,
even though I've never once practiced how to be what you see me as,
or ever once understood how you glide into each oncoming moment,
and especially how you can pull me with you.
I can only wish you will become my own memory to clutch behind my eyes,
to release like an ending autumn;
a slippery fish wriggling out of my hands and into the past,
disappearing into a comfortable pool we have waded since before black and white
were enough substance for anyone.
My cactus has been drooping brown and rotten
for 3 weeks;
It reminds me of you, the way it's made me bleed,
yet it's disappointingly harmless now.
Sometimes when I lie here I see bright lights
Outside, orbs of flaming white and crayon yellow
Silently exploding in the night for
My eyes to see.
The stars are doing the two step off the
barren rooftops; kissing the cement and
brick chimneys like my hair would
fall into you when our foreheads touched.
Blond hair clinging to the stone sink;
I could never settle with a routine of my own.
You'd sit on the tile and watch me fuss with
Curious eyes laughing.
Once, you were the one pulling out the
yellow yarn of my head; delicate and painful.
It took us three hours to get all of your gum out;
Twisted and circuitous within my strands.
I caught you off guard; carelessly snipping
a chocolate brown lock of your own,
Curled around my finger.
I tied it with a red ribbon and hid it;
My very own piece of you to keep.
You stood outside my door with a lonely cactus
A week after my birthday. It was beautiful.
You were beautiful.
Paper cranes, taking flight over
uncharted walls and windows.
It was your art, even though I
Secretly thought it was nonsense;
Flying paper birds.
It's weird, the things you notice
the day your heart is broken.
Fragile men and women,
bent over and content in their old age
holding hands and canes alike.
You look at them and all you can think is,
Someone's going to break her heart someday.
Your train left at 6: 03,
but you didn't look out the window at me
Like you would've in the movies, and
no stars were there to kiss the rooftops.
I buried your lock of hair next to the
discolored cactus, encompassed in
It dies a little more for me everyday.
You leave everyone so thirsty.
She’s a purple and flowing red foreground in the
apple green scenery;
A fleshy needle in a shrubbery haystack.
I am every person that has sat in this chair.
I’ve invented myself as the artist, or
and when I am not someone else
I do not know who I am.
I. I am the girl with the pencil,
The mother of carbon-copy flowers
Stenciled onto dirty lawn ornaments.
II. I am the pacifist, too shy for originality,
Bored within my conformity.
Feeling stimulated by my ink,
Yet only bold enough to agree with
A previous dissertation on this wood.
When there is a heavy, mutilated chair caked with mildew,
and dirty phrases smother themselves upon the armrests,
I am the simple “Yes” that accompanies them.
I am nonchalance.
I am the purple and red billowing out over your legs
Hugging your body.
I am churned within soap and water only to
Restart the cycle.
upon which you sit.
I am the platform that holds you safe and steady.
I am the apple green scenery,
Chlorophyll and glorious sunlight.
I brush my chin against the
Bare leather of my shoulder;
I'm in a stranger's house again.
The plastic of my earphone is smooth
and forgiving against my tongue's harsh prodding.
A sad boy croons in my ear, and my mouth.
Do you remember the night I
Was meant to fall in love with you,
But instead I fell in love with the
Now is another night to pretend I know
who's bed I'm tucked into;
Another snowy massacre of consciousness.
And I'll gnaw on this
Permanent hangnail of a situation
while reading the titles flooded
blue and green suede.
Endless pages of words I'll never
There's a damp towel on a doorknob and
the sheets are frayed and wrinkled beneath me.
Oh I can feel just how slept in this bed is, dear.
I've become inured to the knowledge that
I'm not the first to wake up here punch-drunk,
Dazedly trying to jam together square puzzle pieces.
The euphoria of the evening melts into
An endless inferno, and
You're a disease.
this silence is deafening.
i can feel every exhale in the small of my bones.
a zipper squawks daringly, briefly.
it's a cold sort of empty that burns my spine, and
i don't know if i'll ever leave this quiet.
a girl's cheap green sandals and painted red toes makes me
recollect on holidays lost on you;
days full of meaningless gifts and rotten technicolor eggs.
last night you suggested
a write-over, in a supposedly progressive way,
but i don't know if my heart can weather a repeat.
'We can spend a week rewriting our script, '
you shock me.
'monday will be our first christmas.'
and i could feel you offering me your hand ten states away.
this room is so loud;
the tiled space screams lonely to my starving ears.
your memory and possibility washes over me in sour waves
i'm so desperate to venture upon.
we'll spend a week rewriting our script,
and wednesday will be illinois, briefly.
can we skip the parts where you ruin me?
and sunday will be our second first kiss,
an innocent proclamation of confusion here on out.
your perseverance is loud and soothing,
and i love awaiting your exhale in the small of my bones.
My suitcase is positioned in front of me,
Forlorn and lost in the sea of my carpet.
And I'm trying to convince myself that
Unpacking won't be unwrapping you;
The soft folds of green and pink cloth being undone doesn't
But I know I'm a sucker for a one-night stand and
A seven-night regret,
And I know you're an addict of the worst kind,
Dissipating and contagious within your smoke and
Buttery words that spread over me like the must
Woven into your sweaters.
Your hips kiss mine against the
Cold metal of an empty elevator,
And there's a chilly burn on my bare legs.
Every button pushed and lit with the thrill of
Gaping doors and peering strangers.
Our misdemeanors breathe down my neck
And you taste of crimes and cocaine,
Mixed with a thousand hushed lies.
You catch the hint of rose on my skin
And an awkward air hangs between us;
Heavy and sticking to our bodies like
Illegal and euphoric,
I'm a drug of the worst kind and
A high of the best,
And you smoke me like the last you'll ever have.
She has a tree now. The leaves and lacerated wood barely touches the sky, its life short compared to the years to come. I like to visit the place where we would play house in the dirt behind the elementary school. I remember how she would always make me be the mother, while she got to be the gorgeous and well-liked teenage daughter. I don't think I can say we were ever friends, really, just two people that happened to habituate in the same location. We fought, always, because she had talent at just six years of age, and my personality had not started to take shape yet. Where she was petite and golden, I was husky and awkward. She was a woman amid her youth, and I was exactly where I was meant to be, at the time. I hated her for that.
Our arguments were never anything new or progressive, and I can't even remember any of them specifically. What I do remember, however, were the repercussions I was forced to adjust to after she left us. My original hostility towards her re-routed the grief of my peers, and they chose instead to target me. What they never knew was that I grieved with them, I walked with them inside each heavy footstep. I took deep breaths with them in the mindset of just achieving the next inhale, the next exhale. One day at a time required all too much of a commitment for us.
Dandelions and daisies populated the thick air around her imagination, but she herself was a golden sunflower; a rare rose amidst weeds springing out of the concrete. Isabel. No matter how many times the name crosses my lips, I still feel the chill finger my spine. Isabel. Isabel. Isabel. Forever in my mind what I longed to be but could never quite achieve, even ten years later. She is the epitome of success that dances tauntingly around my many failures.
Isabel, you cheated, you cheated life and death all in one. How can I ever amount to you when death is the secret to perfection? Why am I stuck down here and why are you even farther down, curling inside the Earth, leaving me wondering why I am spared when you were so beautiful? Like how I always knew that you were something amazingly celestial underneath, even during the times when you kicked at me or made me say lies like 'sticks and stones.' I knew it even before you left me regretful and sorry, talking to a tree about the beautiful dead girl. The same little girl who always swore to me in my midnight dreams that she really was a good swimmer, she was a great swimmer when her cerebrum remained unscathed by the diving board.
So here it is, Isabel. Here's the apology I never gave and you never asked for. I loved you, I loved the teddy bear you gave to me on Valentine's day that sits quietly on my dresser, I loved your drawings and your dark, sleek hair and toothy, seven year old grin. Cruelty was the only expression I knew; I didn't understand compliments or social niceties because they were lacking from my own life. You were everything, Isabel. You were the water and the sky, you were the diving board that took your life; you are the tragedy that will always, if only minutely, occupy my own. You were everything, Isabel. You were golden.
And I don't think you understand,
but this is my last Halloween in this town.
I'm sitting on my stone steps with a
filled candy bowl on my lap,
listening to the haunted noises from across the street,
And I remember the first year I completely gave up on this holiday.
How I walked over the street between the houses
and asked the large man behind a tattered screen door
to please turn the recording down,
because I was trying to do my homework, thank you.
And now I'm sitting here, listening to the sounds of that same old recording mixed with the crunching of fallen leaves,
smashed beneath the collections of small, eager feet
that eagerly ignore my driveway.
Turning my head, I recognize deep voices of teenage boys walking up the street past my house, and memories flood my mind of
how I used to lightly brush my lips against their pale cheeks,
crouching beneath my basement steps,
so many innocent ages ago.
Those were the days where our holiday started
the second we got off the school bus,
even though it was still light outside,
and Halloween was the boy down the street's birthday so we celebrated all day,
and there was nothing that could be better than spilling our pillowcases full of candy onto the tiles of our kitchen floors.
And I don't think you understand
How afraid I am to leave this place,
how I'm dreading not seeing the blooming and wilting of my
favorite front-yard tree.
It's blooms already last only a mere and fleeting two weeks
before the petals turn stale and brown on the edges,
and I simply cannot imagine
missing the flowers exploding in bloom next year,
their full blown pink faces shining proudly at the weak spring sun.
The night is getting deeper now, the children are getting older,
I gaze at the small buds of my sad tree that pierce the sky next to me,
expectant, naive, unknowing of the snowfall looming closer, closer.
I recognize a girl dressed as Wonder Woman,
she graduated last year;
'Aren't you a little old for this? ' I ask, precocious.
She smiles and puts her finger to her rouged lips.
Shh, it tells me. You're never too old.
Then what am I too much of? I ask myself,
that I am sitting here alone with half a dozen
Milky Way wrappers gradually covering my porch,
as the television mouths off dimly inside my house.
And I really don't think you understand,
but this is my last Halloween in this town.
Though to be honest,
I don't think I fully understand it yet either.
Maybe I never will.
I. In the closet I can see remnants
of your former life;
the stitched baseball hats and board games
and I can feel the skin on your arm barely
kissing the light hair around my navel,
unsure of itself.
Red single digits blink heavily onto the
clock in tune with your breath on my spine,
The room has maneuvered itself into a rhythm
with your body as the conductor,
the windows sweating with applause
while the cold outside pushes clammy palms
Numbers and patterns settle in my mind,
acute observations of hard metals or tight cloth
peeking into my line of vision.
My desperate grasp of focus onto anything solid,
Your broken statue of liberty, the old quilt,
scattered coins around the hardwood, and
the solidness of these objects settle me,
their copper insides, their intricate weaves.
II. Colored balloons bob on their leash,
And you will question why
the boy holding them doesn't simply
Float away, with his
small face mousy hair cotton clothing blue cap just
disappearing from view beneath the
and I will feel a flicker of
jealousy of this boy, of his youthful opportunities.
Craving attention, you tug at my hand,
your own groomed head disappearing into the crowd.
Perfectly in sync with a small fist unclenching,
I will rotate my body in time to see
the balloons spreading upward and
dispersing over the grass below,
a menagerie of oranges and blues
crass against the sky's pale backdrop.
Below, the little boy will grin guiltlessly,
closing his eyes with contented sadness.
He is already aware that nothing is ever permanent,
as yellow helium spheres become
Mirror images of the sun.
III. A white Victorian house with a red door
watches me from across the street,
rectangular eyes wide and paned.
I can see this house perfectly from
underneath you at night, when I blur out of focus
of my actual whereabouts,
The five people connected inside
a mere extension of my own life.
Two A.M. every morning promises the attic to be awoken,
a woman’s hunched body moving slowly past
the top window, and I imagine the heaviness of
a past longed for that desperately.
You will finally breathe thick and quiet next to me as
the night wears on,
but I will lie still and alert imagining
dressing my body and
sidling up to the house slipping inside the door up the stairs,
accompanying the old woman silently
and looking at the pictures of who she used to be,
and that would simply be enough for both of us.
But the morning following
the single night the attic ever stayed dark,
I will watch the old woman taken outside by
the somber men in white,
Her body stiff and unforgiving.
I will shake you, tearful,
but you will tell me to go back to sleep,
that I had never even spoken to her,
and it stings as you face your back to me.
Talk is meaningless, I convince myself,
Already longing for her illuminated company,
Her soundless loneliness subdued by memories,
my loneliness subdued by her.
IV. Mediocrity was never absent in our togetherness,
but we concealed our discontent with cliché desires.
From the bottom of the beige mattress
You will creep upward towards me unattractively,
craving the warmth of my knotted limbs around you,
and I'll close my eyes inured the same way
the small boy did while his balloons
crept lustfully towards the sun.
I notice constantly that your ceiling has four cracks
spidering across the white paint,
but it's on these nights that only two are visible,
your torso hovering breathless over me.
I would constantly laugh amid kissing you,
never understanding your urgency
within having nowhere to go. It didn't help that
the piggy bank seemingly eyed us
from beneath his black feathered eyelashes,
and I couldn't stop myself from noticing the
greedy suspicions of your fingers
and palms, seeming to belong to someone else,
and how feeling that made everything easier.
Eventually, your feet will pound the steps
to the outside, while I finger the milky buttons and
curve my body around the shirt
you will absently leave behind,
naively regretting my constant absence from the present,
my focus on the contours of buildings and
strangers instead of
the architecture of our limbs entwined,
all of these blendings of beginnings and ends.
Unsurprisingly, you will gravitate away from me,
your existence evolving into a yellow balloon crashing
downward and deflated, towards the ground,
simply longing for the days it was
mistaken for the sun.
I still brush my hair in the morning.
I'm saying I still get out of bed and
remember to brush my hair in the morning,
I'm no perfect person, and
I forget sometimes before I walk out the door.
And usually I can fall asleep easily;
my head hits that pillow and I'm sleeping so easily,
I'll think of you
a single heavy second before I drift off.
And I mean, maybe sometimes I'll
Leave a light on all night or
forget to call you back or even,
once in a while,
quietly give a little piece of myself away.
I know there's repercussions.
Baby, you've gotta know I'm looking for the repercussions.
But still I might start something I can't finish,
I mean I want to but
I'm just not finishing.
What I want to say is,
I wish I could finish this.
I really wish I could say I started this
and had it finish.
it's just that
I sort of feel like a soggy book left on your back porch,
and I mean sometimes I'll let the wind flap through my
Maybe I'll share my secrets to someone who
And maybe I'll tell some lies sometimes,
searing white hot through my teeth.
But just know I don't mean to,
I'm just not a perfect person and,
I can never finish what I've started.
So I mean,
Why did I ever start you?
Well mostly I mean,
Why am I afraid that this is the ending of you?
I Wrote you a Poem
My shoes cut a rough hole on the back of my ankle today,
and so while I drove my car past your house I had one bare foot pressed
against the pedal, while the other relaxed on the dirty floor mat.
And when I saw the shabby and child-sized Big-Wheels truck on your front lawn,
I wondered if once, many years ago, (or really not so many in the long run,)
your toes felt the same striations of a rough pedal under your feet like I do now,
but yours with an orange, plastic pedal instead.
There were no cars parked in your driveway today. Yesterday was different.
I wonder how many days I'm going to go out of my way to drive past your house.
The white garage door is shut tight; the windows and front door too.
The shades are drawn; they possess a sad and washed-out gray pattern, keeping the harsh sunlight outside.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's really hard for me to keep from wondering
what you would be doing in this exact moment,
even though the answer would probably be 'nothing, '
so I guess not that much has changed, relatively speaking.
I should be in the cafeteria at 11 every morning, but instead
I've been walking around the hushed hallways by myself, looking into each classroom at the focused faces and rows upon rows of flesh-colored desks.
A penny dropped into a puddle would cause more of a reaction than
the people inside this building have allowed for themselves,
the water's ripples few and far between and flowing over me like sonar rays.
Why does everything go on exactly the same?
Maybe if we find someone new, and flawed, and point out all of their imperfections day by day,
we can just pretend that you were never here at all,
and I'll go back to driving with my shoes on, and your house will re-open
those ugly gray window shades.
But we'll have to put the plastic children's truck in storage,
because once, I bet you rode on it, and it whispers heavily of you.
And I bet that the grass was green then, while your large wheels lacerated the weeds.
And you know what?
I bet you felt the orange, plastic pedal underneath your bare feet,
and I bet the curtains didn’t look quite so ugly back then,
And I bet to God that the sky was fucking beautiful.
Just like kissing an ashtray (written in Normandy)
An old man with sad eyes lights his pipe;
Staring at the waves crashing in (so gently.)
Nostalgia in every crevice and tear.
The smoke disappears, stolen by the salty ocean air.
I looked up at her with round brown eyes.
I thought the place smelled (like fire.)
She answered, 'That's the scent of loss, the kiss of death;
Lingering for over fifty years.'
I wonder if death is a good kisser.
I bet he tastes like an ashtray.
And suddenly, he's eighteen again.
Looking at the world as an opportunity (just for him.)
God, he was so young.
Those same waves crashing on the shore,
Undisturbed and unchanged, though half a century gone.
He holds his coat closed tight,
To protect himself (from the cold wind's fangs.)
Gray smoke rises and drifts away, unnoticed.
Put out your pipe, old friend,
And we'll walk towards the sea.
Three weeks after I slept in your bedroom and
three weeks after I turned 17,
your roommate tells me the knife we used to cut my birthday cake has yet to be washed.
I like that you're still reminded of me in this way,
A part of me still laced within the stale crumbs on the blade’s edge.
At 3 AM, after everyone else left,
the two of you sang to me,
but Patrick sang much louder than you because he was still drinking,
and we had undoubtedly become sober within our
long overdo exploits on the top of your bunk bed.
And when I cut through the cake
I caught you eyeing the movement of my hands,
and I tried not to be embarrassed about seeing you the way I did in the dark,
the way people together tend to,
your body rocking with vulnerable grace like the night you
walked over hot coals holding another man's hand,
as I watched on the edge of a moonlit lake and tried
not to let you notice me.
And how, when I walked over myself I didn't even feel the fire
because I was mapping this night out in my head,
unexpectant despite myself.
But just three months later I took a bus to you.
We were lying on the thick lawn growing atop the library roof,
talking about stars and each other and other far away things,
when my feet finally started to burn,
and our bodies so close swept innocent aching electricity
throughout my limbs,
until you touched them later in the dark and I remembered what real pain felt like.
It wasn't until later, hovering over wrinkled sheets,
that you looked at me for the first time,
the way I thought I needed you to,
your eyes so patient as you asked me just to say something,
and I couldn't say anything;
my arms around my bare skin forced to do all the talking.
I heard voices in the other room,
we weren't alone anymore,
but we knew we were never alone,
our pasts apart crowding the room around us.
I felt awkward and young then,
and when I tried to climb down the makeshift ladder I fell clumsily,
but laughed to let you know it was okay,
everything. It had to be okay.
Stumbling out the door, we sat on chairs opposite
Patrick and a drunk girl I had already met,
the clean knife lying on the table between us,
wanton impulse hanging heavy and grainy in the air,
and I knew that all traces of vulnerable grace we possessed once
had been peeled off like a damp shirt.
I ended up sleeping on the couch,
on the floor,
as far from the painful thought of bunk beds as possible.
Eventually, the morning inched into our lives;
And when I almost missed my train and had to cut the ticket line,
I couldn't help the reflex to like when you said, 'Must be nice to be pretty.'
You kissed my forehead and walked away from me
as the train station lights flickered out;
our electricity is gone,
but the soles of my feet are on fire.
Screaming all that glitters is gold underneath
hazy purple skies;
slinky sequins sliding off skin slipping off
And all I want is your dirty love,
Throw it at me through your zipped parched lips;
Past the small jagged bones in your gums.
I don't want to know of the cracks it's resided within.
Let it sear through me pleasuringly
acidic and delusive.
I don't care how many midnights it's
touched base on mildewing couches;
Don't recollect on the silk and
Cashmere it's coaxed off
With assistance from your bittersweet soundbytes.
Don't whisper to my ear that I'm beautiful,
We both know dark eyes and red mouths can only
Get a girl so far,
And we both know they have.
Give me your cheap love,
I don't care what it's sunk it's teeth into;
I won't question what it's
brushed up against.
Break my grandmother's pearls in your rush to
Deny any remnants of spare time.
Guilty cigarettes burn despairingly,
And I feel gawdy entwined within your
Glowingly lacerated proclamations.
And I'd swear to all your glitters as coal if only
The whole world wasn't so damn lush.
My Father has Become the House we Live in
My Father has become the house that we live in.
While I lie here silent underneath my sheets at night,
I cannot tell whether the sharp creaks I hear
Are emitted from my father's tired bones or
My house's tired foundation.
My Father's face has become a mirror image of the
blank screens he stares at all day,
Nonresponsive and blinking; pallid.
My Father is seeping into the carpet.
I trace my toes over the colorless stains that reveal the
Places where his bitterness dissolved him.
Thusly, I secretly expect to find small dents or gaps
Between the freckles on his skin,
But smooth flesh always peers up at me.
My father has become an armchair.
Although not one of the expensive ones that recline,
Because those would cost too much money for him.
Instead, he sits upright, failing to acknowledge the
Painful cracks of his spine crying out.
My Father has become the faded television set
My Grandmother received as an added bonus to her
Crisp new washing machine,
Forty years ago.
My Father has become the door to my fire escape that
Slams open when the wind gets anxious,
Blanketing me in a breeze laced with pollen,
And I imagine the spores through the night are really
Stars dripping through velvet,
Onto my body.
My Father has become the noisy strangers that crowd
Below my windows, and I inhale their barbecues and laughter.
Sometimes I get urges to walk over the stained carpets in my
Through the fire escape door and
Out of this groaning house,
And ask those people to tell me a story they haven't told in many years,
From before they became the person they are now
Fleshed out in front of me.
But I never do.
And sometimes it's hard for me to understand how
I can live so near someone, and yet never know
Who they really are at all, or ever were,
Even though I never ask.
I just remain here quietly with my Father
Who has become the house we live in,
Groaning through the holes in the plaster,
Peeling the paint within every hollow crack of his bones.
She was only skin and bones when we decided she had had enough.
Some people would say the word 'just' to describe her,
but 21 years with her small body always resting in the same place
can make a large house feel so empty.
By the time I could feel her spine curving into my belly, and looked into her glazed eyes sunk into their pits like sunken ships,
I knew that what was once mine would be gone soon.
What was once a plush carpet beneath my small toes, and awkward splinters from my fingers against a fire place; wet limbs after sledding, collapsing on tiled floors in padded, noisy snowpants where my face in your whitedarkmilk chocolate fur was me knowing everyone was okay, me thinking nothing would ever change.
That was before the suitcases came out and every second spent with me and my brother became tallied,
where dank new jersey apartments opened up to my wrinkled nose. Those stale staircases and hurried minutes where my father tried to condense a week of love into two nights and one tense car ride.
This was when we took you and the dog and the other cat you never liked, and moved to the smaller house where I cried that my room was too small, that the television was in the basement,
that I found the pictures we used to have on the walls taken down and rolled up and shut with a rubber band so we couldn't be reminded of what used to be.
And through all this I still felt your body curved into mine, my arms snaking around you, falling asleep entwined and content despite it all.
Consistency being vacant in my childhood, your body was the only thing that still felt like home.
You were there too when the big dog wasn't around to bark at you anymore, to feel my arms choking tightertighter around you and feeling the wet on your fur and not minding.
You were there for the finale of so many summers when I would burst into the house in an explosion of green canvas duffels and tanned skin, stories of other little girls that would soon fade with time.
You would be in the same spot on the couch that you were in when I left, looking right through me with those green eyes, those eyes not yet sunken like ships but vibrant and piercing, waiting patiently for the night to come and for me to climb into bed and match your body shape.
It's now that I lay below the sheets tossing my body, unsufficient and empty on it's own, a piece of me amputated and gone.
It's the creaks from the walls and the dents in the couch, where I turn my head to look in spite of myself.
Only now do I know that what I once had will never be again,
It's only now that I feel my family is broken.
Shimmy and Smoke
The smell of smoke kisses my shoulder blades,
reminding me of you, and your
sly smile at me from across the fire;
hazy behind the screen of smoke and embers
crawling up to the treetops.
Our eyes red from chlorine and the heat
distanced between us, piercing our skin
long after the fire whispered a foreshadowed
death. Short attention spans took flight, the fire pokers
being too busy caressing on damp towels shying
just short of their ankles, twenty toes
accustomed to the protection of cotton and leather toast off the
cloth's fraying edges. 'Canoodling' was the word you had used,
And I laughed, and probably hit you not so gently
on some bare patch of skin or muscle within my reach, my cover up for
the brief loss of contact. Summer midnights never cooled
faster than when you left me with them,
alone with the dull stars that plead our yawning
admirations. Yet even after the fire had given in to the
night's chill, and those egocentric bulbs in the sky silently
cried out for our compliments; and the parents were left
to their own devices, tired faces illuminated with
late-night television's pale blinking
glow reflecting on their heavy eyelids;
and I've scrubbed and scrubbed and
scoured and soaked in this hot water of our
meaningless shortcomings, I still can't rid myself of
the smoky reminders of your obscure smile smothered onto me
all sweet, sticky syrup and regret.
And it burns through me long past the soft echoes of
colorless smoke and ash have danced all the way
to the tops of the trees.
Skin and Bones
Two pairs of eyes stare at me two dimensional in front of a wall paint brushed orange before the leaves all died. The paper is so crinkled from my plane ride home an April ago that I can’t see the pain etched into their wrinkled skin, worn from a decade of photographers. Empty quotes exploding with carpe diem lay quietly at the bottom of their faces.
The curtains are watching me missing you, and the only living things captured on my wall are my pets, because pictures of friends that aren’t friends would only spark my somberness to a bonfire. I wish you were here on my bed again, back when it was okay for me to love someone, and I wish I still missed you, rather than missing what you gave to me. I’m such a selfish loner.
People I’ll never know sing me their secrets, and the autonomy of this bleached white utopia is doing a number on my vision. I’m sick of these stains; however beautiful and temporary they’ve come to be. I’ve been scrubbing and scrubbing for years and I just can’t rinse out the repetition. Sit in an empty bathtub with my regrets as my company; a solo flickering candle a reminder of the absence of running water. I’m bathed in its glow and cubic centimeter warmth.
I wish the glare wasn’t so strong on my posters so I could see if the dead people on my wall are proud of me. My bedroom has an execution line up absence of emotion; one by one all the feeling is fading. And there’s a boy on my mind that’s never known autumn; has never drowned under the explosions of orange that soak me paper-thin. He writes about things I can’t grasp, except for the parts that exclaim old feelings rehashed. Yet somehow even that is mind-altered and strained; the come-and-go kind of love. And yesterday was going to be just me and you, while the sidewalk watched with envy of our mirth, but mane flips and rising smoke always interrupt my evenings, and even the ones that aren’t my own.
Geniuses and movie stars are watching me with knowing crossed hands, their eyes somewhere else. I speculate where they went with their life directly after the photograph was snapped, slowly walking into a metaphorical downhill oblivion and bedroom-wall admiration. I wonder if I’m in the background of a portrait somewhere; dazed behind a smiling family I never knew in some faraway place I’ve flown to; captured in their family room, looking off to a sky not pictured. Do they wonder who I am, where I came from? I should hide in the background of every camera clicked; place myself into families and experiences not my own. Maybe then someone will pause and think of me, ask themselves who I am, who I’ve loved. If I get to be happy sometimes.
I think I’d be comfortable eternalizing myself as a mystery, or maybe I’d just be continuing what I already am to everyone. Skin and bones, blood and nails; words from behind lips everyone sees moving yet always fail to hear the whispers melting out. Skin and bones, blood and nails, take me somewhere scorching that’s never known autumn; let me melt below the paper rotten leaves so I can snap and crackle with the best of the summer deceased.
Swift as Ever
I can still smell you on my clothes,
nestled between the layers and threads like
the sharp burrs that I still find clinging onto my
over three hours later.
The cup of your palm on the smooth skin of my side,
just barely higher than my hip,
as we clutch each other under so many yellows of
a juicy sunny halo of autumn's destruction,
of our destruction.
We rested on our own island that we found beneath a
The strings of your small mandolin mixed with the
dexterity of your callused fingertips; a crescendo of
you and me wafting into the gentle rushing of the
white water on every side;
whites of my teeth that I could never hide,
the open gate for my spilling laughter.
And I can't help but wonder, did you bring her here
Now I'm reviewing all of my memories, so crisp and
refreshing like the air in my lungs while we jumped
off of spray-painted boulders,
and how the colors in my mind contrast so perfectly
with her rectangular dorm bed and gray walls plastered
with your faces pushed together.
And she's oblivious to me, it's mutual,
I can't stop the rushing of the water anymore,
circling our small island,
the population has become three, now, and
it's getting awfully crowded up here.
We'll have to throw the mandolin overboard,
and there's only your callused fingers above my
hipbone left to save us.
I see her wading in the water behind me;
We make eye contact, she knows everything,
the island has become population: you,
as the mandolin floats swiftly into a rock and
I’m feeling sick down to my bones,
A deep kind of hurt that ignites the chemicals in the clouds.
I never fail to feel as vacant as I do on this mattress;
Brash piano solos float orphaned above my head without a
Confessing owner to their synchronized violence.
These walls makes me long for any dregs of human contact I can grasp;
A tap on the shoulder, a brush against my cheek.
Yet I can’t shake the sepulchral air in which I tend to carry myself;
My soporific shuffling down benign hallways,
Spitting out rusty nails and tacks that message blood to my taste buds.
And I can’t help but reminisce on my vicarious life;
Marinating in possessed footsteps on the scarred pavement.
Inauspiciously gliding my shadow onto your own until they entwine;
A conjoined loner consecrated by reflection.
And I will begrudgingly reveal from beneath my strawberry apples that
Every now and then I wish I had some desire to dehydrate myself within
Stale honesty and vodka,
Or at least to a similar extent of blackout that the symmetrical personalities
I tend to associate myself with can recall.
I’d much prefer the high from a burning, frigid night with just the empty stars;
Feeling like I’m the only person that’s ever existed to see a sky so striking.
It makes me shake;
I’m so shatteringly alive.
And still I don’t understand the repertoire of generational tendencies;
The unfailing sequence of undesired encores history reveals;
Bitter youth constantly and desperately trying to swim upstream in the
Oversized kiddy pool of a mainstream world.
A man once revealed to me the idea that ‘humans are human, ’
But I didn’t comprehend him at the time;
This fresh axiomatic theory that he bestowed upon me.
We are condemned to repeat;
We are destined to succeed solely inside failure’s boundaries.
One by one we will revel in tragedy; an empty festivity.
If there’s no celebration for progression
I’ll be the first to toast collapse;
Inuring myself to this dented symmetry we proclaim as achievement.
The Boston Red Sox Trump the Colorado Rockies, October 28,2007
In an eerily quiet dormitory
I wander down hallways, reticent,
As the walls erupt around me like swollen messengers.
Outside pulsate battle cries of a feeble triumph,
Closing in heavily on all four walls.
I step into the cold and look into a different city.
A stream of bodies heaves me down the cemented path of the adjacent park,
Where on the outskirts, badges glisten haughtily on men saddling
identical chocolate horses,
Stampeding the disconnected groups like herds of buffalo and
We are only so much wheat grass and winding plains.
As the red-clothed bodies around me coalesce and throb into one mass,
Pairs of eyes alit in false protest,
A car is overwhelmed onto its side, incapable,
And I can’t help but think of the California fires
burning up the hillsides,
as blue flames wind up my own urban landscape;
the silver street signs, lone traffic lights,
and all of it destroying listlessly, like a fever.
I stare blankly in a black sweater, disconnected,
Until sirens wail a fracture over the trance.
It’s when a horse whinnies near me that I break into a run,
Feeble branches scratching at my hot cheeks,
And the park is a bystander taking me away with cold, soothing arms,
as the overhead trees teeter on the edge of the truest inferno
an autumn ever saw.
The New Year
We're learning about the sun and the Earth and
The stars in science class,
And through all the confetti all I can think is,
'On January 1st the Earth rotates the
Nearest to the sun.'
Too bad I remember it now
And not the day I sat flunking the test.
A New year, just an excuse for disappointment and
Creeping up on me like a bad habit,
I was just getting settled with 2004.
It doesn't feel right to me, all of this
Starting new, this
Clean slate hullabaloo.
December always brings to me the
Unwanted metaphorical gifts of
Mangled knots and broken zippers,
These ties undone and
Blank white pages.
How can I start fresh when I'm just trying to
Tie back these old strings that
I can't seem to get right.
All I had to kiss when the ball dropped was
My dog, and my mother,
Who towered over my position on the rug and asked
I told her I resolve to paint my toenails.
But after a 'try harder and stop being
So sarcastic' look (on her part,)
I had the hopeful idea that maybe I could
Spend more time enjoying where I am,
And less time wishing I was somewhere else.
But that didn't work, because the second she was
Out of earshot I caught myself
Wishing to be with distanced boys and
Friendships that are clinging to my childhood
While I move on.
Loneliness typed out 3 minutes after the death of 2004,
I think I'm going to need the practice for this year.
Here's to another 12 months with no one to kiss and
No champagne flutes to toast.
I sure know how to ring in the new year with style.
I don't understand how a bucket can reach the point where it overflows,
When water is dripped into it just one dropp at a time.
When did we crossover from too little to too much?
And I don't comprehend how each day I finished with you
Could result in a lifetime of memories;
This slow crescendo of time wasted and lost.
The rain is smacking into the pavement,
Applauding my apathy,
And my unconscious is pouring out buckets.
I can make out bare legs through the crack in her door,
entwined within green cotton sheets.
Pale limbs askew and raw, unashamed,
Like the colorblind photograph of a pretty girl you never knew,
Her blank expression etched in milky shades of gray and uncertainty.
This house breeds sepulchrity like a virus,
seeping into the carpet and squirming through our ventilation.
And I never really understood loss until
I started to force sleep on myself at odd intervals;
Closing my eyes to block the window streaming harsh sunlight.
And I never really understood paranoia until
I started to notice every groan uttered by my walls,
hoping to discover any echoed remains from your
Clumsy, padded footsteps.
Like tiny incandescent bulbs, the stars peer at me securely
From their dusky loft,
But I'm unaffected and hollow within your absence.
The night is lost on me without your foggy replication of
my cold vapor smoke rings, that
You used to mimic on cold nights.
Instead, I'll shiver amidst each small pinprick of cold that
Pinches my body and expires,
All accumulating near your vigil of my
And I'll briefly soak to the bone,
Wondering how many other people just long for someone
Placing my mouth around the frosty white air
Long past the moon had comfortably reclined;
We were alone yet watched and listened to,
Through the eyes of nearby crickets looking for an audience;
Through the ears of the sky and the grass.
I know that my memories will fade and brown around the edges,
Like an old photograph of someone you don’t remember.
And I know that I’ll probably forget how intently
The stars were spying on our stillness that night.
But I’ll never forget you.
Bundled into the corner of this leather bus seat
Crumpled composure and tired eyes,
Windows blaring flimsy branches
Sunk knee-deep in winter,
And I am reminded by the shrieks of youth
that I am no longer what I used to be.
These rouge cheeks around me,
Porcelain faces spotted with the spare shaded blemish of
deep rose and cherry;
Awkward faces beneath cheap wire rims;
The cloth patterns paired mismatching;
Ten dirty fingernails.
And I yearn to speak of nimble innocence
alight in their eyes,
but I've grown to know better from experience.
My neighboring frosted windows brag of pureness outside,
bedded clean and white,
Despite the wheels enfolding a slowly stained
Glass of youth within.
Vibrant bodies around me so pierced with yearnings,
Brimming with a life they believe to be so solid,
So I won't whisper secrets that
Everything changes in childhood epilogues,
How they'll no longer be what they are now.
Though I can't help but burn envious
Of their clumsy nonchalance through
strided untied shoelaces,
tens of pockets hiding miniature playthings
made of this or that.
But more than anything, I covet the
Sharp freedom they possess within youth, of
Themselves, yet to be discovered, of
Evocative flaws yet to bind them, of
Afternoon bus rides, crooning white landscapes and broken
There’s holes in the planks beneath her feet
And New Jersey never looked so sullen than at two in the morning.
Her emptiness comes in waves like
The muddy greens and grays of the shore that
Kiss her toes, falling back on dirty sand with a sigh.
Outdated billboards and sagging, lifeless buildings
Cloud her vision as she searches for anything to soothe her
Heaps of turtle-people mold and crash on
Forgotten sidewalks, their houses on their backs,
Their homes forever gone.
She’s crossing a derelict bridge;
The vacant melting tar screaming abandon.
Fingers caress rusty bolts, juxtaposed.
The clouds are spitting out stars and
They’ve never sparkled so brightly; spit-shine clean.
All is frozen but the telephone wires,
Adjacent overhead and shatteringly alive;
Dirty pigeons release their grips and take flight in all directions.
She’s wading in the water and can’t tell herself from the
Lullabying waves that leak dry promises, and
Saline meets saline at her height.
She’s breathless and breaks herself,
Collapsing to shore amidst dead jellyfish and
She walks nowhere and abound,
Her toes caressing the edges of the holes in the planks beneath her feet,
And New Jersey never looked so much like home.