i tried to bring you the moon.
i did, i jumped
but my legs were tired
it wouldn’t have been able
to fit in the plastic grocery bag
i shoved in my pocket before leaving
my apartment this morning, nearly
forgetting my keys on the way out.
i tried to play you a ballad.
i did, i sang
but my throat was hurting
it wouldn’t have sounded
very good, since the lyrics
didn’t quite rhyme, and truth
be told i suck at playing the lute
and look terrible in colored tights.
i tried to defend your honor.
i did, i drew
but my pistol was jammed
it wouldn’t have ended
badly, considering no one
challenged me to a duel or even
insulted your name, and you know i’m
a lying pansy who doesn’t even own a gun.
i tried to write you a love poem.
i did, i felt
but my inkwell was dry
it wouldn’t have shimmered
the way a good poem should, the
way your eyes kinda do when you
smile, and i forget for a moment
how language works in the first place.
i like my body when it is with your body.
those are e.e. cumming’s words, not mine
but if i could claim them as my own first line
alone, in the bathroom mirror
i make silly faces for fear of
staring for too long,
trying not to think of marshmallows-
pasty. puffy. pale.
squishy & overweight.
easy to get sick of.
no harsher critic than your own self-hate.
but i like my body when it is with your body.
when you touch me
marshmallow melts into moon goddess.
suddenly my curves command tides,
our celestial bodies dancing in tandem.
when you kiss my stomach,
waxing and waning with every breath,
i know what it is to be not only loved
but worshipped -
and what sort of moon would i be
if i couldn’t make you howl?
i always pictured love as big and slow -
a languid thing that lagged, and dragged its feet;
i thought it needed time and trust to grow,
that months should pass before it felt complete.
you proved me wrong: four days was all it took
for those three words to slip between your lips.
i could not breathe; my every atom shook;
doubt came and passed (a fleeting, brief eclipse).
i may be foolish; yes, i may be young -
but i’ll be damned if i don’t know my heart.
in answer, four words echoed from my tongue
to beckon forth a swift but steadfast start.
and where the path leads, only time will tell -
but in your arms, i know all shall be well.
i fell asleep, wrist stinging
i dreamt that my shoulders opened, weeping
from wounds i have yet to make
with scalpels that even now rattle towards me
still in their cardboard packaging.
i dreamt that the blood was a better red
a sweeter tang
taking the tartness of raspberries
from the seeds still stuck in my teeth.
i dreamt that you were proud
of my pain, and perhaps
- in the biggest lie of all -
that you understood the whisper of skin against blade.
on one-night stands
so maybe i should feel guilty.
isn’t that how these things go?
the wake-up daze, the hazy lilt of sideways sunlight
knifing, gently, through the windowshade.
yes, we drank too much last night.
according to tradition, i should rise now,
dress quietly, slink away into the morning
with my tail between my legs,
blink away the brightness of the patronizing light.
but i remember now our moaning
in the darkness,
how for the first time in so long
i smiled against someone else’s lips.
under the weight of your hips
i reached escape velocity,
free to close my eyes and feel
the realness of pounding heat
and humid joy,
laughing and shouting in the same breath,
oh god, yes !
as yes became a prayer on our turgid tongues,
a worshipping of skin against skin.
so i choose to stay in bed,
knowing that your bite mark is a badge of honor,
pinned proud in livid pink
against the whiteness of my shoulder.
i feel older now, and younger,
and so wonderfully sore.
the morning walk can wait.
this bed’s still soft and warm
and i rock myself to sleep again
in the rumbling of your quiet snores.
lacuna (a tribute poem)
i’d like to take this moment to wonder
what this poem would be
if it was not in honor of you.
perhaps it would not be mine at all,
its syllables scattered,
serving sonnets and sestinas
born from younger hearts.
perhaps the words would drift on
shimmering soft and weak in the æther
reaching out timid tendrils
towards the tethers of muse.
but this poem has come forth
it exists because of you.
it has arrived, like us,
to thank your lungs
for the miracle of respiration
and to celebrate
the oxygen that you have spun
into filaments of language
& the words you have woven
i cannot claim these consonants
nor these vowels
as my own.
i present them
as offerings from each of us;
there are moments and memories
which rest in the curves and hollows
of each letter.
alone, sir, we are only symbols.
but you have found the strength
to string us together
we have found
letters to words, phrases to stanzas
to say this:
for all that you have lived,
for all that you are living,
for all that you shall live,
for the gifts you have given us,
we hope only
that we can one day invent
a word that says all that
we cannot hope to express;
a word for our gratitude;
a word of such magnanimous joy
that it cannot fit onto any page
but instead must be sung,
a leviathan to bridge the lacuna,
the gap in our grateful lexicons.
but until we find that word
we must settle for
what we are able to speak.
and that, sir, is
pneumatized (a spoken word piece)
if you cracked open my bones you’d find cobwebs and hollow places
where marrow once expanded
& pulsed with life.
these bones once burned full of brightness &
blood & passion
but they are empty now,
echoing with loneliness
and the sound of the door
slamming behind you
the day you left,
a bang that shattered
& point-blank pierced my heart with shrapnel
worse than the wound from any bullet.
and last night,
i woke with a swirl of
words in my head,
a mantra repeating,
tumbling over saying
you are owned by the sadness of your soul
and i swore then
in the mumbling clutches
that if you become a car
swerving out of control,
i’ll be the pole you crash into
standing strong as the pieces of you
crumple around me
and if you become a ship swallowed up
in the tyrannous teeth of the ocean
i’ll be the lighthouse, laughing, leering,
a shining path back to a home
you’ll never see again.
so if one night you wake
to the sound of dawn breaking in,
i hope that you will come to your window
and cut your bare feet, bare hands
on the shards of glass
come to the window and look down
at me, stones clutched in my fingers.
i will not have come to serenade.
you will find no sorry sorrow in my eyes.
i have found the reason for the
empty space that haunts my skeleton.
like a bird, my bones are pneumatized
and in my heartbreak i discovered
that regret is my only anchor
and knowledge is my open sky.
i will tell you what i know
and, too late, you will realize
& reach out your bleeding hands
as i tear out the sadness of my soul
to rise up
i have always liked
leafing through dictionaries,
old lexicons with their origins always in
‘a’ and then ‘aardvark’
all the better that
i am not looking for anything in particular
(adj: resembling seaweed)
skimming past, i mistake ‘resembling’ for ‘remembering’
and suddenly the pages are yellow deserts
crammed with dry words that
crack and buckle
in the forgetfulness of ages,
thirsting nostalgic for the ancient waters
that once flowed through, with
room enough for
nouns and adverbs to
softly in the tides
my world, my work
is full of things i’ve stolen
plucked pinched gathered found discovered
rescued sometimes perhaps
a small flat marble enveloping
delicate blue ribbons of glass,
a silver key from a friend,
paper scraps with edges of bright color
and rococo pattern,
works of mine,
works of others.
yes! i am a thief!
an adventurer, a thing-finder, an artist
but always a thief
and a damn good one.
i will sneak from the shadows
slide words quietly from your thought-pockets
to keep in a little notebook
of poems made from night and fire.
i am not always proud
of my gypsy ways
but i am reassured in my ability
to create original from otherwise
and i have moved from words
to whole thoughts, to ideas,
to entire small universes,
clamoring in my pack.
but of all the things i’ve managed to pilfer
is my favorite among them
a heist nearly three years in the making,
a slow beautiful accident.
and now i dance with it
tacked carefully to my sleeve
alongside my own
and with every hop step swirl clap
they clink together in sweet melody
among fortune cloth and old stories
in the flickering
of bonfire light.
topography (a spoken word piece)
hello your eyes
hello quiet ice oceans
pooled beneath dark brow lines
bold and dark but not
in the way my mother’s coffee is
bold and dark, more like
bold dark mountains over quiet ice oceans.
maybe this is too dramatic.
a commotion, a promotion
maybe it’s just me
whoring for hyperbole
but hey, babe—
i’m a fuckin’ artist.
poetry has one less source
for its creation!
but i digress.
because i’ll bet no girl
ever told you that your face
was a fuckin’ national park
(i promise it’s a compliment)
excuse the clichés.
i just wanted to say
something different than what i always say: