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Slow Burning Fuse

A Collection of Poems
Fuse

2
the biggest lie
I ever told
was said in
such simple
vernacular
that no one
considered
giving it a
second thought

Im fine.

3
Weight

I do not carry my weight just in pounds.


I carry it in dreading summertime shorts
I carry it in not being like my friends
I carry it in waves of terror, undressing in front of anyone
I carry it in fat jokes Im supposed to find funny
I carry it in claims of Just lose the weight, its not that hard
I carry it in my mother calling me fat when I was thirteen
I carry it in being uncomfortable in my own skin
I carry it in stretch marks
I carry it in rejection
I carry it in disgust

I carry it.

4
Monsters

Funnily enough,
I came in thinking you
were a monster.
I came in knowing you
would kill me dead.
Funnier still,
you taught me
that its how you go out
that really matters
and even though Im
still breathing and
youve long since stopped,
you killed me all
the same.

5
Battle Wounds

skin like ringed armor


deflecting arrows and
blades that rings out
like the wind through
chimes made from sea
glass unearthed and
collected.
what no one says is that
this armor is heavy,
the weight of it stifling.
they don't mention the
burden and the bruises
where each blow strikes.
contusions pressed
and worried, that never
truly heal but leave no
scars and no proof they
were ever even there.

6
Leaves

I can't settle in my skin;


I feel like I'm changing
fast as autumn leaves
and falling just as quickly.
I'm too small for where
Ive ended up
and too large to
fit anywhere else.
there's not enough time
in a day and each one
feels yearlong.
I fear I will end up
crumbling under
careless feet.

7
Mythology

They should call me Icarus.

I flew
too close
to you
despite the warnings
and the lectures

I wanted to feel the


warmth of your sun and
the freedom of the wind
but the wax is molten
and I fall apart

I am
crashing
down.

8
Tattoo

Ink on my fingers from


where I drew an approximation
of you on the inside of my arm.
pen smeared across my skin;
rubbed out, blurry versions
of your eyes and your mouth
that fit impeccably against mine.
marker-line wings on my
chest, a bitter interpretation of
what you were and what was
left of you in the end.
and your name,
translated;
needle punched ink on the
thin flesh over my ribs;
permanent and aching like
the empty space you left behind.

9
Guilt

It's not on purpose,


this spiraling decay.
It's from clinging
too tight
from loving
too hard
from moving
too fast.

My heart does its level


best but I'm still stuck
in the backfield.
I'm too scared to come out
and just say it
because I love you
and I know you
and I want to want the
same as you
as not to break your
unstable heart.
Will you hate me?

It won't be nearly as much


as I already hate myself.

10
4 AM

4 AM poetry is heavy,
treacherous.
At 4 AM you become
what you want no one
to see.
Stripped bare and ugly
it whimpers, it moans,
it howls. It whispers secrets,
it cries aloud until it
sleeps once more.
You watch the sunrise.
You remember 4 AM.

Untitled

imagine
if my words
inspired someone
if they spoke truths to a stranger
and set a soul burning
or if my words grew love
where it was lost
and they were quoted
through endless time
it would mean the world
would understand
would know you
like I do

11
Ice

The waves sound like distant thunder


I hear them, they pull me down.
This shoreline isnt the same as it was.
The rocks are much more violent;
theyre jagged, sharp, unsteady
they move as I walk across. Dangerous.
We walked these stones with confidence,
careless, on steady feet and
slippery soles. I walk barefoot now
and pray for no broken bottles
because this time I dont have you.
You cant carry me across the sand
with my bleeding foot, my red eyes
from crying. My eyes are red now;
but Im not bleeding, just broken.
Summers running out.
The sun soaked sand will cool, the water
turns to ice. Just like you.

12
Uprooted

I am a tree stuck steady,


firm in the ground.
My roots grow strong
deep in soil, around
buried rocks and ancient
bones. My trunk
is wide, uncountable rings
of experience, thin and
thick but all-important.
I am unmovable, too old
to be broken by nature.

You are the wind. A hurricane.


You are unconcerned with my
unmoving roots set deep.
You are invisible until you
blow about my branches, rip
my leaves, carry them away.
You beat against my bark
until it loosens
you whip through my branches
until they break
you push and push and push
my trunk groans with it

and falls.

13
Virus

Biles bitter taste clings to the back


of my throat where its too swollen
to swallow sips of water and scraps
of food.
Ill sleep for hours and hours
until I finally wake, still tired
bone-deep exhaustion clinging to
my skin.
My voice is different: muted, strangled
by engorged glands that make it
impossible to swill or swallow anything
but water.
I dont speak much anyway; content
to let the days slip by in relative silence
but for the stifled whimpers when I
wake alone.
Orange pills, green pills, yellow, blue, white.
Antibiotics and pain relievers that do nothing
and are too big to slide comfortably down
my throat.
Wake at 3:30, pop more pills in the dark
of the empty kitchen, hoping that these
will help, will relieve what the others
failed to.
Self-proclaimed quarantine, locked in my
room, selfishly hoarding the quiet bliss
of no expectations or demands even if
only temporary.

14
Skid

The rumor is to steer into a skid.


What a load of shit.

When the snow is falling hard


enough the roads you know
are strangers. Nothing is the same.
Everyone is sixteen again
when the snow falls. Everyone
is two seconds away from
sliding off the road to crash
spectacularly in the night.

Steer into it;


like your hands arent shaking
and the gut reaction isnt
exactly the opposite.
Steer into it;
Like as if even at twenty miles an hour
the panic doesnt make you
wrench the wheel away.
Steer into it;
you can tell yourself that a
million times and it wont change
the way your pulse jumps.
Foot on the gas
hands on the wheel.

Im skidding.

15
Fabrication

My friend leans across the table


and says, Youre beautiful
which is all well and good but
doesnt change the fact that when
I see myself in the mirror, my face
is too round, my nose is scarred,
my chin, the second one, too present.

The mirror tells me that I have


potential in the shape of my eyes and
the plump of my lips but theyre
overshadowed by the weight around
my middle and the texture of my skin.
My hair could be nice if it werent
for its predisposition to frizz and
knot and snarl like jungle underbrush.

My friend says Youre beautiful and


its a counterfeit smile because I know the truth
in the disappointing shape of me and
it makes me fidget and my stomach churn.

Im making liars of them all and


no one even sees it but me.

16
2013

suffocation
asphyxiation
strangulation
constriction of our hearts
and our heads
choking on the bad,
the wicked, the worst
of the world
expiration
submission
deflation
forgotten hope surfaces
in the face of oppressed,
obliterated expectations
but it only takes one,
a single, distinct deed,
and the world breathes again
an exhalation.

united exultation.

17
24 Hour Time

The clock is all zeros.


Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack
stare down at a black
and white pool table.
Its from Oceans Eleven,
I think.

The zeros are mocking me.

Theres been an explosion here.


A collection of schoolbooks
I never bothered to open.
Piles of clothes are anthills
on a soccer field.

I should be asleep.
The stolen orange traffic
cone on the dresser isnt
a traffic cone at all.
Not tonight at least.
Tattooed with sharpie marker
memories.

I dont know why I put up


Christmas lights this year.
I never light them. Leave the
corners dark and to
the spiders.

18
I can feel them on my skin.

When you have insomnia


youre never really asleep
and youre never really
awake.

The clock is no longer zeros.


The alarm goes off.

My bed is already empty.

19
Wreck

sometimes
when I drive
back roads with
no lines
and the sky
is dark and
my headlights dim
I accelerate
and accelerate
with my knuckles
white on the wheel
and my foot
pressed down
until Im afraid
of myself
and how Ive
pushed
and I hope
something goes
wrong
I hope I
crash
just to see
if anyone would
notice the wreck
Ive become.

20
Culpability

It starts sharp in the chest


and rises slowly
creeping up the throat
and burning burning
catching the esophagus
until the eyes are stinging
and they water
and they overflow
and I want to vomit just to
make it stop, to ease the
ache in my stomach.
It mixes with the alcohol
that burns the way down.
Its a molotov settled in my
gut that ignites and steals
the air from my lungs until
my head throbs. It comes
at night and in the morning
and in the middle of the day
on my drive home.
It comes when I think about you

21
The Centimeter

We are about one centimeter taller


in the morning than in the evening.
It could be simple science the way
our joints are loose and giving when
we crawl from our cave of blankets
and how they settle throughout
the day and are reset once more in sleep.
Or maybe, its the slouch of our
shoulders, weighed down by
the hours in the day and the bone-deep
weariness that comes with them;
the heavy hearts we carry through
classes and meetings and dead-end
jobs we never wanted in the first place.
Maybe its the burden of knowing.
Knowing that even though tomorrow
is a new day, it is still the same as it ever
was and that centimeter we grew will
always be among the things weve lost.

22
Untitled

"You're just existing" she says


like that's not the hardest thing.
Like existing is something that comes
easy in the night when no ones paying attention.
Like existence isnt a stopped heart
or strangled breath away.
Like its something people dont
struggle and fight and battle for
every single day.

Im existing
and Im hiding
and Im failing
to be who I should.

I exist but Im so close to not.

Can you exist without knowing


who you are?

23
Timeline

When I was five years old, I was under the impression that I was a
lion.
When I was seven, I thought that I would marry Bugs Bunny.
When I was thirteen, I wanted to work with animals.
When I was fourteen, I wanted to work with plants.
When I was fifteen, they told me I was at the top of my class and I
wanted to investigate crime scenes.
When I was sixteen, holding my first B in my high school career, my
mother told me in a darkened car, that if my grades slipped I wouldnt
go to college because we couldnt afford it.
When I was on the cusp of eighteen, I spoke at my graduation as the
valedictorian and was sent off to college with a full tuition
scholarship.
In December of my first year, I only got one A in a writing class
because it was the only class I actually wanted to attend.
In May, I was in danger of losing my scholarship and my parents
looked at me differently.
Halfway through my second year I moved home, was given a drug
test, and made to go to therapyI only went once and we sat in
silence until the hour was up.
I got a job and it was the only thing I enjoyed about school.
I declared as an English Major because I couldnt think of anything
else.
At twenty-one, I moved away from my parents, my grades improved
slightly, and I could breathe again.
I took film classes and I started to appreciate learning again.
I should have graduated at twenty-two but instead I hung around an
extra year because I was too afraid to leave.

Im twenty-three now and I wish I could go back to five when I was a


lion in the morning and an astronaut by lunch.

24
Slow Burning Fuse

Slow burning fuse;


rushing towards
Inevitability.
Holding on to
half-realized standards:
the well-timed rescue,
the ten-second countdown,
the last-minute hero
who doesn't exist.
There's just me;
colorblind in a world
of red, blue, and green wires,
scissors at the ready
indecisive, insecure
watching
waiting
compliant as
the world implodes
in glorious fashion;
because I couldn't
just put out
the damn
fuse.

25
Dear You

26
Beddiquette

I don't know how to share a bed


I toss and turn
fidget and twitch
I snore and flail
I hog the pillows
and steal the blankets
I don't know where to put
my hands or tuck my arms
my legs are unwieldy
stubborn and too big
my heart is too loud
hammers away in my chest
staccato against my ribs
Morse code that repeats
over and over and
keeps you awake
I love you. Don't go away.

Shared Space

Poetry is words spilled across a page


the same way your limbs
spill across mine where,
in the limited space of my bed
we share a breath, pull the sheets
over our hips so I can shield you
from any eyes but my own.

27
Diminished

It's mostly your fault, the way


I sleep surrounded by blankets
and pillows, caged in on all sides,
steady pressure on my front and back.
I was never like this until we
shared a bed and it was you in
my space, crowding me to the edge
of my mattress or against the
wall of your room. My full-size
bed is cavernous and empty
all on my own.

For the first time,


I feel
small.

28
Untitled

You know
before you
I didnt write
poetry
didnt have a
reason or
the patience
to find
the rhymes
the metaphors
and now
Im searching for
synonyms
because beautiful
falls so short
of what you are

29
Typewriter Love

Dear You it starts


like always.
Dear You means me.
You is me and You
is you.

Our letters use no names,


just You for we and us.

The typewriter font


calls you to me, the
click clack of keys
resonates in my head
and the fresh ink stains
your fingertips black.

Blocky letters read


declarations and combat
doubts and soothe jumbled
hearts.

Dear You goes the letter.

I read I love you;


a typewriter code
waiting to be broken.

30
Chicago

I'd like to walk with you for


endless miles. I'd take your
hand in mine, like the
puzzle pieces we could someday
wrestle in a wooded cabin.
And the way the sun shines
or is it the florescent light of a hotel room?
catches your hair, glowing bright
like the smile you pull to my lips
when I watch you and you don't see me
looking. I've held it before, your hand,
so small in mine while we sat;
so perfect in my big clumsy fingers and sweaty palms.
I worried you'd find them ugly.

And me.

Because distance and a well placed camera


aren't the same as touching, holding,
kissing.
Am I a disappointment? Am I
an unexpected failure like I spent months
thinking I would be?

Maybe not because I remember


the way our hands found each
other in the crowded hall
I was afraid I'd break you into pieces
And how we fit together in the sliver of bed space.

31
And how your lips felt against mine,
once, twice, three times
not enough
and I tasted Aquaphor for hours on the long drive
home.

Star Gazing

my favorite constellation
is the one between your
shoulder blades;
the flecks on your skin
alongside crescent moon
marks from fingernails
that accentuate the purple
galaxies tarnishing the
expanse of your neck
a map of my discoveries
laid out for me to follow
back home to the curve
of your smile.

32
Body Heat

My lips on your shoulder, your skin is


heated where they touch. My bed is warm
hot
enough for me to kick free of the blankets,
feet dangling from the side like
wash hung out on the line.

Its not the heat of a sticky New England


summer or the arid warmth of
a road trip through Texas. Its
comfort and refuge through the press
of your body against mine under
the sheets

and how we woke up


sharing one pillow, my arm thrown
over you to hold you close. Its how
I dont feel shame when my sagging
stomach presses into your back because
you think Im beautiful and you want
like I want.

Everything.

33
Laundry

Ive been putting off the laundry


for a week
hoping that theres a lingering
feel of you haunting
my clothes
the ones you held me in and have
aquafor on the sleeve
from where I wiped it after
you kissed me.
Its piling up and overflowing the
basket but I leave it there
like I leave the long hairs I
find in my bed and
on my bathroom floor.

34
Love Letter

this is not a love letter


but it is lines composed,
carefully strung out, typed
at two a.m.

it is sleep deprived
verses collected to
tell you how problematic
it is to express what you are

its me, remembering


how you terrified me
and now its that Im
frightened by how much
I need you

this is not a love letter


it is a declaration of
intent
because I want to
keep you
can I?

35
Florida Nights

Ten days
is far too short a time
to spend in the curve
of your smile
and the corner
of your bed.
Three days
is what we have left
until I am gone from you
from your touch
from your love.
One night
is all it will take
sleeping back in my own
sheets, wrapped up
in New England sounds
for me to miss these
Florida nights.

36
Firefly

I follow you
through dark summer nights.
You spark like heat lightning
brief against the deep blue-black
where the Milky Way sits content to
watch over us.
You flash and I chase you,
jar in hand.

I want to catch you, keep you and


let you light my room.
Fill the dark corners where monsters dwell
and gnash their terrible teeth
Maxs subjects running wild.
How wonderful to wake and see your
light shining on me.

I wonder if everyone else can see it


when you ignite me. You
set my heart ablaze with
adoration and an aching desire
I didnt know existed.
FireflyIll follow you.

Dont leave me behind.

37
Untitled

Your lashes fall, cast a shadow


across your cheeks in the fading
light. The sky is vibrant long enough
to illuminate you in profile; the
slope of your nose, curve of your lips.
It steals my breath, punches it
from my chest as I watch where you sit,
where you should always,
by my side.

Pulse

My heart beats
70 times a minute,
4,200 times an hour,
100,800 times a day.
I could count each one,
spend my days with my fingers
pressed to my throat or
the inside of my wrist,
tallying every beat and
know that each one
resonates for you.

38
Unfinished

If I knew anything about science


I would compare us to atoms
and circling electrons, charged;
electromagnetic force and all.
If I knew how to take apart engines
and build them back up, I could
call you a belt and me a piston,
pieces that make up a whole part.
If I knew how to play the piano
we could be a beautiful sonata
that rises and falls and ends
with a ten minute standing ovation.
If math made any sense to me,
you would be the solution to the
proof I spent years searching for
in a dusty, cramped college office.
If I knew a little of exquisite food
in far away places, where the menus
are impossible to read, you would be
a chance selection and my perfect meal.
I could craft you into a metaphor
if I was any good at poetry; something
elegant to set off my blundering speech
and unsophisticated cadence.

39
Sleepless

3 am sees me wrestling
with the covers, half on-half off;
reluctant to be trapped inside
needing that left leg freedom;
too awake for my own good.

3 am has me thinking of you


how well I sleep wrapped up in
your sheets, my head on your pillow,
and the soft snores and whistles;
the way your hands grip the covers.

3 am reminds me that my
heart is no longer stone and
that it beats consecutive beats,
caught up in the promise of you
and the rhythm of your breath.

40
Catalogue

I could stretch far, seize


a hundred stars from where they rest
tucked safe in deep black night
clutch them to my breast, collect them
in my hands (overflowing)
I could put them in line, one by one
list and grade them
bright, brighter, brightest
until my eyes ache
my fingertips sore
it would be useless;

not one would match the brilliance of your smile.

Second Hand

I would gladly walk in


borrowed clothes if it
meant I could save a
dollar to hear your voice
across the telephone line
and start my long journey
back to where Ive always
belonged.

41
Home

It astounds me the way you


fit effortlessly
in my bed, my life,
my heart.
My breath catches in my
throat when you say,
hurry home
and I realize that's exactly
what you are to me
I've made my home in your arms,
tangled in your hair
and you've made yours
buried beneath my skin
embedded in my soul.
Ten Thousand Feet

When I was very young


the idea of flight was exciting.
Pack a suitcase, board a plane,
chase the sun beyond the clouds.
But now Im ten thousand feet up
headed away from you.
From your bed, the taste of your skin,
the drops clinging to your lashes.
From the scrape of your teeth along
my shoulder and the marks you
left on my flesh and my heart,
seared like tattoos of
typewriter words.

42
The Sweatshirt

I never understood the appeal


of sharing clothes until you were
swamped in the sleeves of my
sweatshirt where it hung on you like
a dress but didn't quite cover the marks
I painstakingly kissed onto your neck
or the lace edge of your underwear
when you laid on the floor with me.

My sweatshirt, years old, stained and


getting threadbare around the seams
looks better than it did the day I plucked
it from the rack. It looks better wrapped
around your waist and over your shoulders.
It looks better when it's binding what's
mine to what's yours in this intimate,
unrecognizable thing that's we've started.
It looks better with you almost in the
same way you make me believe I can be.

43
The Fall

It turns out
falling
isnt the worst
I could do;
I could have served,
loyal and unquestioning,
or I could have fled
and missed you for
a hundred years
and then a thousand more;
I could have stayed away
and let you be and
never fallen in love with
your voice and the
shape of your lips
when you tell me
this is where I belong.

44
Confessions

You saved me, you say;


whispered into my hair
when you think I'm sleeping.

I dreamt of white picket


fences when I was young.
I dreamt of porches and
swing sets, coat racks and
A doghouse in the yard.
Mostly I dreamt of houses
I saw on after school specials
on static-filled TV sets in
roadside motel rooms.
They weren't homes.
Not like roads and wheels
and atlases tucked under
the seats. Not like diner
food and dusty bedside
Bibles. Not like the curve
of your smile.
Nothing like you.

When you've fallen


and your breath comes
even against my skin,
all I can think is
you saved me first.

45
Pieces

You are a broken thing;


shapeless and shameless,
hanging off the edge of heaven,
dancing on the verge of hell;
white knuckles,
blistered soles.

I am a broken thing;
malcontent and more than a
little malicious,
made mean over interminable time,
my clipped wings throwing
burnt shadows.

We are broken things;


we scrambled for scraps,
our remaining pieces,
and knocked skulls somewhere
in the process.

I think that is how you


got stuck in my head
like an relentless litany
that plays on repeat.

We are broken
but you fit me
just fine.

46
Invulnerable

I think I was cheated,


just a little bit, because
when I first tasted your skin
it was through water
running, pouring down,
and there was vodka on
my breath and wine lacing
yours but despite it all
I found the taste of you

of your swollen lips,


the length of your neck
already bruising,
the faultless peaks that
made you arch against me,
the flat of your stomach, and
the mark I kissed where only
I could see

I found the taste of you


addicting. I want to take
my time and count each rib
with gentle teeth, find all
the inches that make you
shiver and I want to swallow
the sounds that pour
from your throat and keep
them safe, the way I somehow
fit inside your heart.

47
Quiet Love

Ive never been prone to


the loud sort of love
but Ive driven twelve hours
to spend two days sitting on
the floor of my best friends
apartment doing nothing but
sharing space and a bottle of wine
and Ive crawled into a bed
with a body on either side
and slept off the remainder
of the night.

So throw me that quiet love.


The one where we sit side
by side, sharing space
exchanging body heat
instead of words.
Hit me with soft affection
in dark bedrooms lit only
by the flashing glow of
the television where we
lay curled together
because I know I will drift
your way in the night,
sure as a plant turns its face
to the summer sun.

Shower me with light,


cover me with quiet love.

48
Kansas

Home is where the heart is


so I made my home
in the planes of your
stomach and the way your
hair falls across your forehead.
I made it in the way my name
sounds spilling over your lips
and the pads of your fingers
pressed into the hollows of
my hips hard enough to bruise.
My heart calls for you when
we sleep side by side;
I feel the beat of it against my
ribs when it matches yours,
steady beneath my palm.
I finally understand the sentiment:

theres no place like home

49
Retribution

It's when the silence


stretches in motel rooms,
long and cold like the
years I was alone,
that I remember your
hands on my hips
and your mouth on my neck
and how you begged for
my forgiveness and paid
your fines with kisses.

If you look closely you


will see my apologies too,
written with my fingertips on
the canvas of your skin,
pressed onto the space
over your heart
where I long to remain.

50
Restoration

51
Four

You cant braid my hair but its okay


because we have our special three
(or four or five)
tier pony thats just as good.
No one else has got one like mine
and its ours together.

I dont go to schoolnot yet


anyway; but we all get up
early to walk the eighth of a mile to
the bus stop and wave
JP goodbye when he goes.

He doesnt wait when we climb


the driveway. He trudges on, backpack
swinging with each step.
My saddle shoes are laced tight
after losing one to an equine adversary,
take no chances
and my jacket zipped to battle the
early morning autumn air.
I fall behind trying to make
rings from steamy exhalations.

JP marches on but you turn back


and watch me struggle up the hill.
Ketchup, Mustard, you laugh, and
I roll my eyes. Four years old and
invulnerable to puns and sarcasm.

52
I never told you but morning walks
back from the bus stop
short strides misty breaths saddle shoes
trying to match your steps
made not wanting to grow up easy.

Demolition

I think
if we spent less time
constructing walls
and more time
creating doors
we would finally be able to hear
the people
knocking
to be let in.

53
Subtlety

There are subtle signs, which,


in retrospect, are not much as
subtle as him stating:
I like you, I really do,
but you cant tell anyone
whats going on.
Or when he says:
They wouldnt believe you
anyway.
Or:
I want to try something.
My girlfriend didnt like it.
Maybe you will.

And you think,


Well, this might be the
only chance I have at this
and you lay there hating
yourself but you know
this is what you deserve
and you never hate him;
no, no.
Because this isnt his fault.
This isnt him telling you youre not good enough
you already know that and this is what you get,
this is all you get.

54
Subtlety

There are subtle signs, which,


in retrospect, are not so much
subtle as her saying:
I like you, I really do.
Or when she holds your hand
when you drive home where you
can sleep together, share each
others space and you can count
the marks she let you leave
and the ones she left on you.
Or:
when she touches you and whispers,
I dont want to hurt you.

And you think


Well, this might be the
chance for something new, better.
And you arch against her
and bite her neck; you lay
there loving her with
everything you have.
yes, yes.
Because this is her fault.
This is her loving you, saying
youre perfect and beautiful and
you know that this is what you get,
you get to have this.

55
Blinders

The sun is setting,


my foot slips from the accelerator.
The car jerks
and slows before the engine
catches once more.
Fuel ignites and Im gone.

This road isnt mine.


I know the curves and
potholes and low hanging branches
of my road.
I know where the bright sun
cuts through the trees
to blind me.

But this road isnt mine


so as the sun sinks, a
ray between two branches finds
my eyes and everything goes
white.
A second of blindness, panic.

This road twists and turns.


The sky is red and
orange. Soon there wont
be any light at all to blind or
light this new road.

A blue pickup truck hugs the turn

56
in my lane.
White knuckles and the steering
wheel jerks right.
Roll down window,
extend middle finger.

This road, its not mine


and now its dark.
Its not my road,
but it could be.
Turn the radio up,
turn on the headlights.
High beams.

Education

the most important thing


I ever learned in school
wasnt one plus one is two
or the capitols of all fifty states
but that where you sit at
lunch determines your worth
only if you let it and that
reaching out to someone
can change both of you for
the better

all you have to do is


decide where to sit

57
Panoply

I'm made up of different parts


stuck together with duct tape
and gorilla glue and paper clips
and string. My parts alone are
useless and damaged and cracked
but together they make me move
and laugh and sing. They help me
breathe in a summer night's wet
air, let it fill my lungs till they're bursting
while I lay awake and listen to the
peepers peep in the swamp.
They taught me how to close my
eyes and leap.

My parts taught me to love with my


whole heart regardless of whether it
could be broken. They howled with me
at the moon in a hastily pitched tent
and played monopoly by lantern light
until the cicadas came in force and
Boardwalk was abandoned for good.
My parts braided my hair and washed
my face; bought me saddle shoes and
gave me hand-me-down clothes that
never really fit. They showed me the
magic of movies and how to best dip
French fries in a chocolate shake.
They taught me that to sing off-key
is good as long as the song never stops.

58
Some of them are shiny and new and
some of them I've had since the beginning.
They're broken and dirty and beautiful.

Just like me.

Maps

I want to cover my walls with maps


and the maps with pins
that hold up postcards and
pictures and letters
stuck in the places I've been
I want shelves filled with travel books
and vials of sand and meaningless trinkets
that are only meaningless to strangers
but mean everything to me

59
Ink

It smells like antiseptic


Like an elementary school
nurses office.
But it smells like something other too.
Cigarettes, coffee, old Chinese food.

A Boston Red Sox emblazoned


prosthetic leg, upright against the mirror.
I want to ask whos missing it
but its probably a long story
and its time to start.
Gloves slide over tattooed knuckles
covering words I missed
my chance to read.
He smirks. Razor scrapes skin.
Iodine stains orange.
An angry hive buzzes over my arm.
Its pitch rises and falls in time
with the rise and fall of my chest.
It prepares an assault.
My eyes snap shut,
a thousand stings pierce my skin.
My teeth worry my bottom lip.
Erratic, uncontrolled.
Raw skin, the biting ceases.
Words are a muted burn.
A cloth wipes away blood and
ink seeps down deep as letters rise.

60
Rough paper towel,
cool relief of ointment.
Covered up with tape and gauze,
At least for now.
Dimension will fade but the phrase is lasting.
Temet nosce1, in ink.

1 Latin: know thyself

61
Open

Pulling
pushing
dragging the decayed and dying
pieces across
floorboards
that creak and shudder;
that protest
the weight.
Too many left behind,
none left to carry on.
Shattered bones scrape skin
raw
and the light too diluted
to stitch the hole tight

Leave it open.

Cant see;
cant breathe;
cells are splitting.
Multiplying.
Dying.

One remains
to start something
new.

62
Wait Staff

I like talking to strangers.


I like making small talk
and learning the way
someone speaks, the inflection
of their voice and the way
they move their hands.
I fall in ten-second love
when they have a passion
and it bleeds out of their
pores and infuses with the air.
I like wondering if everything
is a lie or if they're being
more honest with me than
with their partner waiting at home.
I like the anonymity of five-minute
conversations that have never
happened before and will never
happen again.

63
Fault

You have this thing inside you,


this burning, writhing thing
that blisters your heart and
claws you to pieces in the dark.
Smoke and fire cling to the scraps
left behind, corrosive and strangling.
This thing sits heavy in your
stomach until bile rises in your
throat because its all your fault.

And then: a spark.

Pure and unsullied it pushes


and pushesit climbs inside and
stays even when you push back;
when you say enough it replies
not yet and digs deeper until
it grabs ahold of that thing and
changes itlights it from within;
extinguishes it piece by piece
all the while carefully whispering,
it was never your fault.

64
July

I have been blessed with


sticky summer nights
that bleed into morning
before my head comes
close to the pillow and
been able to watch the
star-spotted sky explode
in color; blue-green-purple-red
as my brother runs, laughing
from a hastily lit fuse.
I have driven through the
night and into the sunrise
like I was stepping into a
entirely new world. I have
lost hours crossing time zones
only to get them back a day
later on the trip home.

65
Clean

sink my bones;
send them down,
keep them under,
drown them in
the warmth of your skin
and the curve of your smile
until I forget my sins;
until the water runs clear
and I finally
feel clean.

66
Clann

Stone house, no roof.


Tendrils curl through glass-less windows
unable to keep anything
in or out.

Cattle graze nearby, unfazed by


the casualties of age.
Homes abandoned, no families
tending peat fires or baking sweet, fresh
brown bread.

Stone foundations still holding


against wind and rain and snow.
Against the deconstruction of time.
Waiting
to be used, repaired, needed.
Waiting
for a family to return.

Thatched roofs rot away


like potato roots and leaves.
Stone piles lay behind.
Empty field.
Ruins.

67
Garden

If I could kiss the scars


touch my lips to
the silver lines
the remnants
that you used
to keep you here
grounded.
If I could hold you
keep you
make you mine
whisper those stupid
little nothing's
that mean
everything.
If I could bury
fingers in your hair
if I could press their tips
against your skin
turn it white
make it
clean.
If I could uproot
every thought
weed out
every doubt
If I could plant
seeds of love
instead.
Would you let me?

68
169

There's an old house


I pass twice daily.
Boarded up, broken windows
glimpsed at 55 miles an hour.
Cracked peeling paint
and a roped off driveway.
What's left of the siding is
sun-faded white except
for a weather-worn brown
door set dead center.
I wonder if a bride was carried
past the jam, white dress
caught underfoot, tripping
the groom the way his heart
tripped to see her walk
down the aisle.
I wonder if they planned for
children to fill the rooms
and help harvest the corn
surrounding them on
all sides but one.
Or did the rooms remain
empty? Did the people grow old
and wrinkled without small
hands and miniature shoes by
the door until one day
someone came to carry the
groom away wrapped in
white? Did they stumble over

69
the doorway, sheets underfoot?
The corn still grows, along
with the grass in the front yard.
Grows until it brushes the sills
of sealed, empty windows
and I wonder if someday
my house will look the same.

Keepsake

take the words itll get better


and youll be fine eventually and
youre overreacting, kids will be kids
take them in your hand and
warp them until they are as
twisted as your stomach when
you rode the bus or you sat alone
every day, every lunch
crush them under the weight of
your fists and your feet until
they are ground to powder
easily blown away by the steady
breaths you took in the entryway
and remember:
remember to collect the laughter
and hoard the I love yous; keep
them close and hold them tight.

70
Multiple Intelligences

Encourage your children to be themselves


and ask them to do exactly as you say.
Support art and music and innovation
but only the types that meet will get them a job.
Urge children to read, give them works
of literature and poetry, but only those
by authors who died a hundred years ago.

Make children unearth, invent, discover


the things you want them to experience.

Do not teach children,


inspire them.
Listen when they tell you about
dinosaurs and astronauts and jellyfish.
Let them speak, let them write;
follow their questions
not those from a textbook.
Give them reason,
foster imagination,
let them create.

Do not teach.
Let yourself be taught.

71
Yamaha

I don't think you could feel it


through the layers you wore when
I buried my face in your back and
grinned like an idiot, shielding my
nose from the wind. My safety glasses,
perched on my nose, digging into the
skin behind my ears turned the streetlights
yellow. Maybe you felt my hands around
your waist when they tightened in the fabric
and we leaned together and I laughed loud
into the night and felt like I was flying.
You were warm and solid against my chest,
between my thighs, and barreling into the dark
I was safe.

72
Selfie Culture

Post your selfies.


Post them at 3am;
post them from your room;
your car,
your fucking shower.
Take a hundred pictures,
make a hundred faces;
try out angles and filters
until you find the one
that makes you feel it;
feel that swoop of
Look at me, Im fucking cute.
Let yourself exalt in
your own dimples, in your moles;
in the little gap between your teeth.

Let you love yourself,


and Ill be right behind.

73
Good

I wanted to tell you


what you gave me
after years and years
of blaming for things
out of my control and for
making me feel less than I
was when I already felt so
very small. I wanted to
show you the place
you left that makes
it hard to trust and
harder to feel loved
and say how I still hear
your voice in my head.
I wanted to explain
that I hated you for
what you did and how
you made me dependent
on only your words and
on only your praise but
then I realized that
in doing so, I would
prove your control and
make you seem important.
So instead I will tell you this:
I am better, and stronger,
and more loved than you
could ever hope to be. I will tell you I forgive you
because I turned out good.

74
2014

This year

Im making the resolution


to enjoy the little things
like the memory of
your laugh in my ear
and
your hand in mine
and Ill resolve to stop
living in the past
and
stop punishing myself
for things I couldnt
change like how were
different people now
and
Ill tell myself that
its okay to miss you
even when it hurts.

75

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