men like you

I’ve been with men like you
who touched my hair,
who stood, palm to back of my neck,
arm like a kickstand holding me up

I’ve fallen for men like you
who smiled slyly,
who laid, palm to the small of my back,
arm like a hospital bed propping me up

I’ve argued with men like you
who fell silent,
who sat, palm to twin dark palm,
arm taut like a whip thrown back to strike

And so I understand…

You’ve been with women like me
who spoke too much,
who sat, palm to the front of my chest,
arm trembling like a bow just fired

You’ve fallen for women like me
who faked smiles,
who laid, palm to the cavern between your ribs
arm like a snake twined beside you

You’ve argued with women like me
who screamed,
who stood, palm raised to the gods above
arm stiff like the trunk of a white oak

And so you understand…

Since you disappeared

I’ve imagined you a hundred times, a hundred thousand times. The teardrop shape of your mouth, the white scar in the arc of your left eyebrow. Yet I am unprepared for the smell of you, and the blackness of your eyes.

I cross my legs, trying to ignore the throbbing along the seam of my jeans. My mind replays scenes like you forcing yourself up the front of my skirt, like one of your hands on my lower back and the other over my mouth.
I close my eyes for a moment, shut these things out.

My name on your lips sounds like a curse. “Are you listening to me?” you ask.
I shift my gaze from my own hands to the paintings on the walls of the coffee shop, miniature depictions of brown animals in snow.

You’re still speaking, but it doesn’t matter what the words are.
You’re stuttering like you always do when you’re upset, and your jaw tenses up as your hell black eyes try to force an answer out of me.

“I fucking hate you.” This is what I want to say to you, but instead
I part my lips with the tip of my tongue, wrap them around the straw in my drink and sip.

The veins around your temple tighten and release like a fist.

I want you to hit me.
I want you to do it, like I know you wanted to do it that morning in my car, when I told you I’d fucked somebody else.
I want you to grab a fistful of my hair, pull my head back, and bite me hard on the neck.
I want you to tell me that I like it, tell me how hard it gets you, how you want to
eat me alive and make me cry.

I know you could do it, and I’m terrified.

You start to raise your voice and then, realizing you can’t do this in here,
take a breath and clench your teeth.
“Can we talk in private?” you ask.
I tell you no.

I think you could kill me, if you wanted to, and I’m terrified
that you might want to.

Instead, you change the subject. Ask me if I’m seeing somebody else.
I take another slow sip of my drink. “Yes.”

You ask who, like it doesn’t matter, but you know that it matters.

I say that I think you already know who it is.

You exhale, and I’m reminded of the noises you made on my bed
when I pushed my palm over your mouth and told you to shut up.

“Then you fucking lied to me, didn’t you?”

I laugh, running my tongue along my front teeth. “I never lied. He was just a friend. He isn’t now.” Your silence is your most lethal weapon. “Are you seeing someone?” I ask.
Even as the words escape my lips I want to suck them back in. My heart is in my mouth, swollen and choking me.

“No. You know why?”

“You can’t find anyone else to put up with you?” There’s some kind of freedom in saying these things. I know you want to make me pay for them, but you can’t anymore.

This time your voice is steady when you reply. “I can’t figure you out,” you say.
“I always thought you were this cute little girl, so shy and quiet, and then you’d surprise me because you were funny. So funny. And you could ride a dick, ooh could you ride a dick. You made me crazy. But you were my woman. My sexy, stubborn, silly woman. And now I hear you telling everybody that it was my fault, that it was me that broke you, and that hurts me. Because it was you that broke my heart, you fucking slut.”

I’ve reached the bottom of my drink, and it gurgles. It feels as though my lungs are balloons and you’ve reached over and stuck pins in them both.
I look up into your eyes and they’re soft and kind now. This is the way you are. Your words are enough to make me want to die but your eyes deceive the coldness of your heart.

“Does he make you cum?” you ask. Your fold your hands on the table in front of you like a surrender, but I know better. “Does he make you scream like I did?” Your voice is hot sticky caramel.

And suddenly I am buried in snow, I am on fire. My hands tremble and I shove them under the table into my lap. I am not weak. I am not weak.

“Hmm?” Your eyebrows stretch upward, baiting me to answer. “Does he do that for you?”

I cannot stop the images now: the open mouths, the beads of sweat sliding down my breasts, the pressure between my legs, your tongue unceasingly licking at my skin. And I hate you so much more.

Something brushes against the inner part of my knee and I glance up at your face to see you smiling. One of your hands is missing from the table. It doesn’t take me long to figure out where it has gone. My legs are bare except for the cutoff shorts you bought me for my birthday last year – was it only last year? – and I know these have affected you.

The table is small enough that you can reach further up my thigh, your fingertips drawn toward the heat. “Stop,” I say. You ignore me and I can’t move. “Please stop.”

“But you don’t want me to stop, do you?” You push the small strip of cotton between my legs to the side. You can feel how wet I am.

I say your name.

You say mine.

I want to cry. I want to kiss you. I want to leave. I want to take your cock into my mouth like that straw I’ve been playing with. I want to kill you. And yet I know that what I want doesn’t matter. You will get what you want.

You always do.

Roommates

The housing preference form asked me
Whether I drank alcohol or not, and
Whether I would accept a roommate
Who drank alcohol.

I answered yes and yes.

The housing preference form asked me
Whether I used marijuana or not,
And whether I would be okay with a roommate
Who used marijuana.

I answered yes and yes.

The housing preference form asked me
To list my favorite types of music,
And whether I could tolerate a roommate
Who listened to country.

I listed indie, rap, and punk rock.
I said I could handle some country.

The housing preference form didn’t asked me
Whether I minded a roommate
Whose long threads of brown hair smelled like flowers
and whose tan skin gathered beads of sweat
In August’s thick air.

It didn’t ask me if I minded a roommate
Who slept in lavender underwear that showed
The dimples on the backs of her thighs.

It didn’t ask me if I minded
That she wore red lipstick with a black dress
Or that she could roll a perfect blunt in under five minutes.

It didn’t ask me if it bothered me when
Her fingertips traced mine as she passed
Skinny white j’s to me
Under the pine trees skirting the softball field.

I was bothered by waking up drenched in sweat.
I was troubled by dreams of her long naked limbs
Writhing under my own.

I was disturbed by her drunken sobbing.
My hands would shake as I sat beside her
Again and again
Brushing the tears off her cheeks with the pads of my thumbs.

I was tortured by wanting to press my lips
Again and again
To the salty streaks left on her skin.

The housing preference form asked me
Who I’d like to live with the following year.

I wrote down someone else’s name.

Girls just wanna look like Barbies

They tell you how to
Paint your face, define you by the
thickness of your eyeliner and the coats of mascara you apply
gaping like a fish
They’ve got you hooked, dangling over 98% fat free, sugar free
but not quite calorie free–
please pass the porcelain? I’m almost to my goal weight.

They tell you what to
Wriggle your body into. Be sexy but innocent, be bold but blend in,
Because you’re
just
not
exceptional enough
to
stand out.

They tell you who to
Fuck — who should make your cheeks flare with glut oxygen
and something close to happiness,
who to smear your emotions all over like ketchup slopped on new jeans.
And They tell you
exactly
what
to
feel.

Cover-up won’t conceal the crimson around your eyes,
so strip down to your bones baby, the boys like it.

What They don’t tell you is that
self-hatred doesn’t fit anyone right.
See how it tweaks your mouth, carves lines between your brows?
That’s alright, They can just Botox it when you’re done
lacing tape measures through your ribcage.
You’re down to 23 inches? Oh my God, I’m so jealous.

That Louis Vuitton handbag should keep the wind from tossing you skyward again.

I like your room

I like your room when you are in it
Perched on the chair beside the closet.
The dresser is stained by your green thumb
Which impetuously gathers roots lonesome.

I like your room when I am in it
Sprawled on bedsheets, gently skylit.
I trace eggshell cracks on the white wall
As you walk on long feet down the hall.

I like your room when we’re together.
Your arms wind round me like a tether.
Hiding your face amid threads of gold
You breathe my name into me threefold.

I like your room when we are in it
And all around us is a vignette
As you strike my tongue like a fresh match
And press in close so the flames can catch.