If a tongue kiss is an olive colored lake fish still on the hook and I catch it:
Then I must be slow and comfortable, clasping around it from the top down. If I flinch, I must be sure not to upset anything—tongue in cheek, dignity. And when licked across bottom lip, I must fight the urge to coil away, must feel output wave over me like tranquil lake water rustled, but unchanged by motorboat wake.
Remember a kiss can be dry and desperate, a gasp through gills straining to stay open when there’s drought where there should be water to let in. And a kiss can convulse: a dying, caught kiss will offset its own balance in order to land on solid ground and escape the catch of its angler. In the moment, a kiss might backflip momentum into wind in between sigh-like landings onto parched spaces that don’t upkeep aquatic—bone-dry, wooden decks or dank, beige pontoon boat carpets. But if the fish sets free, plunges, and swims into fluid and fluidity with a flop of the water’s edge. Then the tongue can become, under, submerged in its own comfort, the environment of its intension, afloat in freedom from and return to tendency.
Time alone is better off saturated than diluted
There is a small squirrel in the grass outside my window. I study her. I see she has static inside: magnetic noise, shaking white radio snowflakes, yanking her up and around the circumference of an oak tree, toward the robot converter box in the sky.
I toss and wash, under duvet cover comforter, baby blanket, plush stuff that sweats me. Bathing me in morning turned afternoon, like soapy laundry. A delicate and lengthy spin cycle.
On the hour, I go to the window to greet my friend, that otherworldly squirrel. She is never there again after that first hour. I assume she has taken off, miles upward and probably settled in short hours with a new nuclear family, of alien chipmunks and prairie dogs, all half conscious, lured to the magnet.
Mauve air hangs at the sill of the window of the rectangle room. I roll my eyes at the fluorescent bitch tubed on the ceiling and staring at me. My guess is that if ever I go outside again, medium sized rodents will rain from the clouds and whisper to sooth me as my cracked mind too, unhinges.
with Emily and
it, romantic, even though, Emily
asleep mid-sentence after mid-sentence:
Emily’s apartment in sweatshirt.
joints inside, cigarettes on the back stoop.
anything but Emily.
Emily with eyes.
guilty into cigarettes she gives you, but never
in love with the image of Emily on the back stoop.
because this Emily will barely last long enough to satisfy
heating pad full of lavender.
over away from attachments,
full of Emily.
hot pad heavy upon Emily’s pelvis.
if Emily feels any better.
pain, complaint, potential, Advil, Tampax.
Emily you are soothing, for this Emily will only
a week or two more before Emily will
to be soothed by you ever again.
mouth around the underneath of Emily.
See visible, brand new, self-perceptions
yours too, but not in Emily.
confidence from this Emily, but don’t
Emily your own, but don’t
too much. Don’t
elbows around hips of Emily.
into predictable rhythms.
these rhythms until she’s off.
Men aren’t knives (Exiting this metaphor)
My loving boyfriend of 8 months now gifted me his old, oxidized pocket knife for my 21st birthday. I wonder how many $20 copays it will take for my therapist, Sara, to convince me again that all men are not, in fact, this metaphor I’ve written them into.
Sara says maybe my lover is a butter knife. Maybe she’s right.
He glistens silvery. He spreads and glides me, guides me round and around myself, never functioning to penetrate or puncture a surface. And even when I anticipate some capability of cutting, he cannot do it, so we continue to spread together.
About a bottle cap (or if men are knives then what the fuck is metaphor)
This is a pretty fucking average bottle cap. It is a gold twist off bottle cap from the top of a bottle of Brand Name Dry Sparkling rhubarb carbonated water—a glass bottle with a reddish-purple sticker stuck on it and a gold cap, toughly puckered around itself like bottle caps are. I just picked it cause I like that kind of color. I wonder how long and hard somebody thought on designing this good-for-nothing, phallic ass bottle and its cap. The Dry Sparkle is nothing special either. Tastes a little like artificial fruit flavoring.
This bottle cap’s perimeter nurses two
or three small scrapes, the gold coating scuffed off,
accidentally setting forth pretty silver from underneath the gold,
by happenstance of some fall to the ground or
some sharp something that
touched it where the gold once was.
We never witnessed this take place,
so we fill in the unknown
history of the life of the bottle cap.
Looks like perhaps it hurt. Anyway, you tell me to write this poem about a bottle cap. We talk about how there will be no thinly veiled metaphor in this bottle cap poem. We talk about how this poem will not be just another poem about us, but a poem about a pretty fucking average bottle cap. We talk about how our relationship is great, so the metaphor won’t be necessary. After I write it, we make out on the couch and I accidentally kick the empty bottle of Dry Sparkling off the ottoman in front of us and down to shatter across the tile floor.
What makes a stranger strange?
No concrete, primary encounter, passing glance, eye contact evaded and always a premature exit, index middle finger fumbling, fidgets with whatever is close by, toes point away, missing happenstance and the fastening and the thing that happens when the get-to-know you game gets left un-facilitated and we don’t get to know which kitchen utensil you’d be if you were a kitchen utensil.
What makes a stranger strange?
After time passes, it is deconstructed trust that makes a stranger. The way one stands in alien space holding trust in decay and injured glory, as a house holds a human being arriving for the first or sixty-third time to a dry stretch acreage of land, knowing and also forgetting how to use an area, parcel, or plot. Like one never learns the knowledge of ancestry and trade and generations. Like one never learns how to use humbly, heartily, lazily, foolishly and unuse again into abandon. Until one is only adorned with splintered shutters that claim it simply, as property, scrap, beauty, ruin, shedding morning, afternoon, and shadow onto the grass in a slow bobbing motion over the day. One is just built edifice and framework viewed from the outside, worn through without any home in them. We can’t know strangerhood if we don’t remember boredom too, the time it takes to get to this place and the time it takes to get to know one. Strangeness and strange won’t lend belonging to anyone because of living too long and too much emptying. By too many without care, repair, mend, restoration. Every one always stays strange and we never know the whole history one has had.
In what ways can we keep love with people we know most well?
As I learn of your idiosyncrasies, your interests, see your beauty and read into your fatal flawed body, is it inevitable that I will fall in and out with you over and over and over again? Are you just the face I’m seeing in front of my own this here moment? Will we look each other in the pupils today? How about tomorrow? One minute yes, the next second no. I cry after. You are just partnering with me for this one improvisation. Will you help me find the graceful ending? The softest landing? Will we make it long? Then will I once again be left to my own with the weight of my own head on my own shoulders and the weight of my own torso bearing down, approaching even, balancing my top half onto my hips? Uh huh. I’m my own weight to carry. No question. That’s how it will always go, with the end and the endings. The beginning floating somewhere high in some inaccessible nook beneath a stucco dream ceiling and above a real time.
The beginning is blue lit and black boned. The beginning a blur.
I remember, but we’ll never really get it again. No question, that’s how. In looking for the beginning, the beginning misleads us, so we are only really looking for a right ending. Ever the respectful one or the sweet one and the happy one or the bitter one, the far away one, the old one the baby one dark one the meek one the silly one and the hard one and the starry one and the faded one and the talking one and the partial one and the part one and the parting one. Good bye.
It is a gift. I ask the sun back out again. The present tense asserts itself in me. I sit with just-wintered March sun, reminding us of its slept strength and generating. The sun remembers me too and warms to me as I ask of it. We rediscovered heat this morning. The sun and I exercise into this hard new warmth that used to cringe us and hold our breath. I breathe with the sun and it is forgotten, unusual relief in my abdomen. I feel more and I feel less. I try with everything I have to breathe in conversation with the heat. The sun breathes too and tries too and we don’t give up and then before/after the warmth spreads fully it shades itself with cloud wash. The clouds bring down the heat of the sun as the sweat bead un-swelters my working head. Does the sun feel soreness like me? In working out out doors, am I in conversation with said sun? There is also cold. And cool too, when the sun needs breathing. There is breeze. The wind joins into conversation with all skin, all goosebumps, and the sun. It isn’t always good timing, when the water, wind, earth, fire interrupt one another. It just is by virtue of happening. There is dirt. There is mud. There is pond, ocean, swamp, river, rain. Because of this. While it feels sometimes as rude as interruption, it is conversation and it is our main sense of continuing. We are okay with a change in temperature. For the most part. And the sun exits out the clouds again. The sun comes out the clouds for just a minute. I see, and in doing so, I participate in the weather. I am in/with the warmth of the sun as it is ready and we are waiting for nothing.
That sorrow I love eats like blood, orange, sunlight, ripe and stings my esophagus every time in indulgence by way of making too much new dead sweat skin un-sanitized old wound skin irritation always becoming cancer(s) each bite(’)s way down bursting fresh acid and rot together into OUR ascribed containers: there’s a young woman in another room cackling at something her love just said. I sleep.
HAUNTED HOUSEHOLD AND THE ARCHIVE
The house is really haunted though. I'm sure of it. Fog covers its street, up its hill and over. The split level staircase creaks when no one descends. Deer crunch the forest leaves behind the sunroom, between the archive and the highway. The furnace bubbles in the closet and steams across the split-level entrance. It’s Frank Lloyd Wright style too, so that’s spooky in it’s own right, right? A woman with a single flickering candle walks alone down Sunset past the towering water treatment plant. Over morning coffee in the glass room, Eliza and I discuss how easy it would be for someone working at a water treatment plant to secretly poison everyone without anyone noticing. The barbed wire and the sinister light shiver me inside my late-January coat. When I’m here it seems I’m always one layer short of comfort. Nathan and I walk Heather on Saturday at midnight and he tells me it feels like Halloween outside. We spot an unwavering light in the sky and call it Jupiter for the rest of the night. A group of five joggers pass me in unbroken formation the next morning. A retrograde motion type slowing occurs to me as they visit and then advance. They converse with one another as though running doesn't affect the lungs. The fog hangs around their ankles and they also jog right over it with each stride. I mutter "Sunset Road" under my breath and shake my head to myself. I’m stunned at the moving images of it all.
One house on the street is built of adobe, but painted bright yellow. Across the street from that place, there is an annex painted in a coat of grey that suggests an inmate--someone held captive inside. It's something about the blue grey shade and its angular nature. It’s not warm. There's also a yard on this street with one of those highback, full bucket baby swings hanging from a tree directly above a man made fire pit. Does someone have plans to burn the baby? I remember how my sister fell into a fire pit on my Dad’s birthday once because she was afraid and backing away from birthday candles.
Don’t start me on The Archive: The two keys to its America red door hang behind a useless violin-shaped object in the kitchen. The red key goes to the top lock and the blue key goes to the bottom lock. I shouldn't be telling anyone about this, but the door says "Virtual Museum. Imperfect, full of promises." or at least something along those lines. I open the door to the Archive for the first time when I’m by myself. Big mistake? I’m saluted by the 44th president of the United States, directly behind the door in cut out cardboard, surrounded by remarkable white, red, and blue clutter across tall towering ivory walls with small, bright windows. Two naive, untried cardboard Clintons are there too. The space itself is the size of a modest house. Someone far from all this power might really love to live here. Hillary's flat expression can't take up the amount of space it wants to. Carpeted stairs on the side lead up to a hallway of more American archival artifacts, less organized and in softened cardboard boxes. Me and Hillary both, intimidated by the powerful men and their counterfeit faces and the past and the present. Not today, I think. Not that this would be easier to handle on any other day. I mouth "Holy shit" a few times before I sprint inside to retrieve Eliza and Mia. But first, I backtrack to take one more look at it all alone. Corny mugs, 100+ bumperstickers on the ceiling's beams, disintegrating bonnets stitched with rallying cries for women's suffrage. It all seems sickeningly timely. And at the same time sickeningly patriotic. Michelle O. with her bicep flexed, riveting, "Yes We Can." Can we? She can. T-shirts, baseball caps. All American. A welcoming, elderly (senile) voting booth almost flaunts how analog it is. It looks nothing like a Scantron test. It asks "Should we spend $90,000 dollars to build a new prison?", "Should we spend it on a new school?" It hurts to know these questions haven't changed since who knows when. I chuckle, then huff at a photo of George W. holding binoculars with the lens caps still on. My eyes catch on things and lead my head around my neck. Were minstrelsy dolls once involved in a US presidential campaign? Apparently. Is that the haunting? That the existential questions about punishment, and color, and education never change because we shan't overcome the limitations of our nature? Nasty. Abominable. Offensive. God Awful. Rotten. Disagreeable. Corrupt. How much money will some museum board of rich folks eventually pay this family to obtain their collection of signatures and campaign buttons? I feel anxious and rush to leave. Before I go, I open the fridge (which is unused but still plugged-in) and find a metaphor--decomposing gourds and Coca-Cola.
Forgive me for:
I can’t invent new colors and/or I cannot draw up more feelings for us to feel
I have, we have, run them dry and so toward this
I will live to be satisfied by myself, by the in between of my orange, maroon, magenta, and red.
I will live with and for the disappointment of this, a beautiful purpling bruise, with freckle and jaundice yellow at it’s edges, exhausting to strain and separate, pain with an intention toward healing.
Adding perspective to my upset, without you, I will appreciate my rods and my cones, and yours, doing their best, presenting us with special visions for our own eyes only. I’m certain, my maroon is not the same as yours.
I forgive us for the lack, the no fresher feelings than those already felt. I forgive for all that happened already and all that already happened.
I love the only in how it only takes moments to rot after a lifetime of ripening. I love to say I’m sorry I’m sorry.
Though the fault hardly belongs,
to me, I keep solace in saying. I’m sorry.
It is both simple and difficult to forgive the produce for turning brown.
In repentance, I live to be satisfied by excitement and anticipation before it all. I will wake to the sun and accept—write through, right through day after day break breaking. Just as the sun just asks us to continue, just as the sun continues, as miraculous perishables maintaining our day.
A sorry for “it is what it is”
I forgive the rainbow for its fading insufficiencies. I forgive my emotions and yours.
I forgive our silence, especially. I forgive it when it avoids pain.
I forgive pain for giving itself to us relentlessly each day. Thank you pain. Do you know your own good?
I forgive love for seizing our hearts in our chests and expecting them to keep. Going: No forgiveness for a missed beat would be deadly.
I forgive the lack.
I forgive the power of my own forgiveness in assigning blame and asserting sway.
I forgive songs for being not enough. I forgive the existence of music for participating too much in too many patterns and ruining itself in love.
I forgive songs.
I forgive religion, in our heads, stuck there with the things we cannot know.
I forgive small things that remain small forever.
I forgive dust remaining.
I forgive school spirit, my Dad’s dead Mom I never met, cats, the tooth fairy’s assistant, Jeff, performance art, the bullies, the academy, makeup, sequins, American Girl dolls, Doran, my pyloric valve, the kid who brought fireworks to school, Miss Backora, the technocratic paradigm, Santa, God, the entire right side of my body, camp counselors, my clitoris, Eli, boys, girls, chihuahuas, Yom Kippur, and my siblings.
I apologize to trash cans, Ms. Optimistic, my college roommate, stuffed animals, Leigh, Grant, my clothing, the washing machine, trees, the environment, my eyes, Mom, sleep, early recipients of my explorations with profanity, service workers, small bugs I trample, the people who listen to me spinning, the people who listen to me sing, cousins when they see me explode, the film camera that broke on the mountain, the teachers who read my writing, all the devoutly religious I ever judge, the children I babysit and choose my phone over, ice cream, the place in the park where I pooped once, alarm clocks, dentists, experiments, the water, the wind, my clitoris, the date of month, the time of the day, the day of the week, the winter, the spring, the weather, past presidents, children, art, smashed watermelons, the woman at the grocery store on my 13th birthday, to the things gone wrong.