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.


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 mornings

as 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.