dream 09/28/17

I’m with HJ and S, studying in the library at our school. I scroll through Facebook and notice a series of posts by AM, racking up, as always, hundreds of likes. They are a series of poems, each a horrifying portrait of me: my insecurities, ugliness, inconsistencies and secrets laid bare through AM’s eyes, which have looked at me long and hard and deep, which I let in willingly as though there is no key, there is a security guard, finicky, picky, jaded from birth and secretly scared.

“X, with a slightly liberal slant”

“X, with a slightly conservative slant”

“X, victimizing herself through her relationship with her parents”

It doesn’t matter that it was wrong to do: the poems are not mean so much as they are mocking. It is all true. It is all real.

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07/25/17, 8:10pm

Sure, it was you

who did the thing. It’s a hassle

in some regions more than others, but somehow

it was relatively quick, a trip to L.L. Bean on the way

home; you were going anyway to buy a sleeping bag,

size small. The mouth fit smoothly into your pencil box. Your bike chain is still

an arms lock. It jostled against your groceries

as your legs folded over and under

you swerved around mothers-to-be who muttered

obscenities, misdirected hate being a common side effect

of love. Sure, it was you

who went to the registry, told the mustache

at the front desk: I solemnly swear to use this

only to hunt quail. But you’re from the California coast, where it’s seagulls

who snatch snips of bean burritos.

You left me a letter after I left, quietly, out

at 1am wearing pajamas. But just as one’s trash is another’s

treasure, words twist, feline, as they fall

on different ears. I’m not done shooting. I’ll hide

this gun in a pocket, or a winter

coat lining, perhaps nestled in the middle

of a belt buckle, or maybe in a pill

bottle of my medicine shoebox. I’ll slowly forget. Then

one day, I’ll find it, a surprise time

capsule, and we’ll see then if I’ll cry. But

the plan is a slow sprint. You become a totem pole

on a subway station bench: hair flopped on long

face cradled in palm propped up on

elbow weeping on

a box that is your comfort

object until you send that away,

too. You have finally become a post-

card: even the kid with Beats

across the tracks means something when framed

by train bars. Isn’t the train towards the Bronx

on late nights already an alternate universe? Up

is down and down is: you wish

you never picked that particular

petal of that particular violet. This city

is a museum of public woes. When the scratched

words brush your reddening eyes, nothing can stop

this pole from toppling over, wetting

into your surrogate mother’s sheets

two symmetrical puddles a spinning mind’s

distance apart even though you

had the entire goddamn thing

memorized. You’ve never seen a god-

damn quail in your life.

07/25/17, 2:48am

you have made progress! this progress is painful, but it is progress. you can not deny what you felt. you could not keep going that way. that was not an undesirable path, it was an impossible path. you could not keep going that way. you can not change what he can give. this is progress. do not go back. do not fall back to limbo.

he didn’t want your expectations.
he didn’t want your trust. he doesn’t want your trust.
that wasn’t a slip in a charged moment. he knew
what that meant. he knew what
that implied. he knew what that entailed.
you laid down all your cards, every last
one: he made the final decision. you loaded
the gun and pointed and he pulled
the trigger, that was all he did
in the end, shot the can of worms
you shared so they could finally writhe
through your hands. There’s something

freeing about being so dirty that you gladly caress
the slime: you can’t believe it; it’s as if: finally. Finally
you’ve shaved your scalp but only to reach
inside your head and pull out your innards
of the skull; you’re getting into the empty kind
of meditating and you’d heard they were obnoxiously
sentient sometimes, sometimes like
when you finally fold your clothes, you face the drywall, like when
you enter with one headphone in and leave with both
shut tight as the double doors of
your childhood, one for each ancestor: the orchid
and the bee. Sometimes it’s not okay to cry
in front of the little bird who has told you
more secrets of yourself than
you knew you had in you, though
you wonder if it knows anyway
without needing to see the sound-
less spread of a shadow on a carpet.
Is that the secret of the little bird? Sometimes you must

close the door through which you entered without knowing
where the exit is or if it was meant for a person
such as you: it’s ok to sit in the dark just as
it’s ok to install the shadow
of yourself on the floor of lobbies in
apartments and hotels and offices and point
its empty eyes at nondescript tile so confidently that night
shift security takes one look at your crumples and thinks: not this
one, not today. Why bow your head in prayer when you can look
up, up to slopes, slope the neck to
a dejected question, up so
the cheekbones become your personal twin
electrical towers; tall enough to draw the whip
of lightening depending, of course, on the height
of the sorrows around you. If you generate
enough water you might conduct energy, a new kind
of life. Electricity’s a bitch and, contrary to popular thought, often strikes
the same place over and over again just for kicks. A tip: do not

be so sure that the tallest takes the hit. Another one: don’t
swell there for too long, sweet sow, sweet
sow. Didn’t you buy the morning
glory seeds to cover the escape hatch with the wonky can opener? Didn’t
you swear to drag yourself from eternal sunsets? Even worms come up for air
only in between showers. Remember: there are other
natural disasters on your bucket list: sharks to poke, seas in which
to flirt. You are not yet done breaking.

07/23/17, 10:50pm

Excuse me, but I do believe we have met
before. There is simply something
about the way you walk, talk, move

with your shoulders thrust back
when you step and your neck crooked
forward when you focus. Your curls are ever so

slightly flattened on the side you slept on
this morning, though sometimes it is the back
after you leaned against both of the shitty thin pillows

and the blanket propped under
with a warm bag over your eyes to ease the ache
that is always there. I could never

understand how your eyes never fluttered
shut against your will, as did mine
to initiate our nightly routine

of apologies. Sometimes we both shivered
in cooled air with our insulation squashed
under and our will to change the controls encased

in a pool of wax from the end of your candle
we shared, which is to say, we would miss,
just as when I carried a stack

of poems across a park and they saw
a woman alone, just as when I brought
home a grapefruit torn

in fleshy abundance and tacked it
to the wall, let the juices weep
along the drywall, diluted blood

of my thoughts drowning<
in a cup; sometimes my best wine
sours to acetone, in certain company.

But perhaps then
we have not met, because the individual
I am thinking of has a smile that pulls

plump against flat teeth, eyes that crinkle
like aluminum foil around sandwiches
with far too much mayonnaise

for my liking. I eat pale food
only when in certain company. When alone,
I much prefer a riot of green

with enough salt that a person
like you would gasp
enough that I would season

our portions separately in the future,
back then. We have different tastes,
you and I. I do not thirst

for that same flesh. Kind sir, I do
forever, give you my best. I’ll take
that cake now, please, thank you.

07/23/17, 11:31am

Sprung from your forgotten dreams, it came
in the morning, followed you from crooked bed to quick
turn of the doorknob, the eyes turned to the cool
grain away from the soft groan of his consciousness.
It trickled and pooled against the pads of your toes,
weighted your skin to acquiescing gel
into well-worn grooves. It vaulted
up into your mouth and churned the foam
rancid; you spat it out with tenderness
of habit, just like when you bid him Good
Morning to unsure silence fading back
onto itself. You still share the soap. Will you still

splash your face in the hectic s he showers, separated by white
muddied curtain and tamed by familiarity?
A tickle breaks long through the mane
of your calf and you wonder how
a drop possibly made it past
your fingers, holding guard at your budding
crows feet. Perhaps it distracted you
with its curiosity, kept you howling into the night
with laughter such that you did not know
that you’d somehow joined the wild dogs.
How sly it must have been. How much crying is too much

for the end of era that began not in the year of the Ox
but in that of Sheep, which Travel China Guide
and not your mother must tell you: the curve
of the ram and the hard corners of the ox
were never meant to groove. Maybe you should have
checked the legend, first, instead of believing
you knew the way more than did the statisticians
that came before you, the old women
of science who flourish of circles
and not infinite lines stretching past stars
you’re worried no one else sees.
This isn’t how you want to be:    mad

as predicted. Somehow they knew to give
you the codebook. Whose fault is this if they knew
you would tear it to shreds, trample it
with your wheels, light it with gas fire
from a shitty stove in a New York City apartment
only to find this: it has followed you into the gentle

illumination of a streetlight in an alley quiet enough
to be deafening though the cars are never too far.
What a blessing these slow moments are, you know
even as your body stings with the salt
on your bites. Nature gives needle and first aid.

You now know how to snip this particular type
of thread, the one that runs though one temple and out
the other, the last one. He will leave first,

as he does, and you will bike these streets
through and straight out. If all goes well,
you will return.