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please don’t tell me to write more
when my hands are shaking
i’ve dulled every last pencil
just to ease the quaking

please don’t tell me i’m boring
when i’ve got bills to pay
but i spend all my money
on that liquid decay

my mind’s soaking in it
for months now I’ve drowned the flames
hoping love would inspire me
but i’ve just been taking names

for now i’ll satisfy myself
with trite thoughts of tomorrow
as if any of us have got
that much time to borrow

This is meaningless

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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.

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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.

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Blood in the water

I approach the lake like I would an old friend. I crouch, allowing my fingertips breech the still surface. The wrinkles that echo across the water assure me that it remembers me. But will it forgive me?  The wet, onyx colored ellipse stretched out in front of me is interrupted in the center by a small sandbar. The white moon hangs like a bare light bulb above the water. Its cool light settles around the sandbar like a halo, taunting me for my sins. The moon is a witness. Everyone who looked up at the sky tonight saw the same vacant stone. Does the moon keep secrets, or is it whispering what it knows to a stranger right now? The moon is a projector, and in the reflections generated by its pale light I see my own terrible face. I see my own terrible hands. They tremble, an illusion of the ripples in the water. I bend forward to remove my shoes, methodically undoing the double knot in the laces. One black-socked foot, becomes wet with lake water, then the other joins. I peel off my socks and fold each inside its according shoe. My long toes dig into the gravelly sand. I have practiced for this. Since my conception, I have swum through this world. This lake is just another body of water to try out; it is nothing to be afraid of. I step in, only bare from the ankles down. The warm wetness soaking the hem of my blue jeans is a trillion tears. Needy like a small child, the wetness clings to my pant legs, weighing me down. I accept it, and tumble forward. The water rushes into my ears, until I hear nothing but the erratic pounding of my heart. No one will hear me scream here. No one will see me adding to the trillions of tears enveloping me as I take in nothing but blackness.

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To the boy who ran away to Paris

In the glove box of my ‘98 Oldsmobile Intrigue is every mix CD you ever made me.

Their odd titles are scrawled in your typeset perfect handwriting. Harmless Sociopaths, Songs to and of the Aubergine. I still don’t really understand what “aubergine” means. I guess you collected a lot of words alone with your books in your cold apartment on Dale Street, while I was shut away in my dorm room collecting plastic bottles of vodka and prescription drugs.

I don’t listen to your CDs anymore because they make me sad. But I don’t throw them away, and I don’t know why. I guess I’m scared to travel without you.

And when you message me from 4,203 miles away and you tell me it’s midnight where you are, I look out at the winter sun still hanging in the sky like a dusty light bulb, and I feel sorry I never said goodbye to you.

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