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.


07/07/17, 8:28am

I believe this was jotted thoughts for a poem idea

snow taking up ad space

or is it just blowing back (futilely), wind on the front of a bird’s wings

snow falling

ice statues

there is a special kind of cautious shame in those who bike upwards on a one way street

and some lack even this: they pedal lazily, bike turning side to side

it is a new york sort of reckless meandering

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, 1:13am

An ode to the handshake that will never happen:

Some shimmy and slap and clap

and twist. Our friendship, it was

never so ebullient. Instead, we slyly felt

for the wenis — the wenis! imagine

that! — and clasped pinkies; we giggled

the closed-mouthed smirks of comrades

on a makeshift raft of logs we’d gathered, tied

together with brown curls, a Bach prelude

our sail. We sailed the world in it for a while.

Sometimes, sunsets were beautiful

when they set our feet aglow, dangling

off wooden decks to disturb the still. Maniac

laughs in downpours were beautiful

because they were hideous. Which is to say,

our best memories are wordless, but not

soundless. To the end, we slapped mosquitos

from the other’s sweet flesh, mine more

than yours, perhaps, but who’s counting?

There’s that trope, because what are we

but nothing more than amalgamation of Tumblr quotes:

nothing gold can stay, or perhaps we just

threw the shiny stuff overboard when

we realized it was copper, just like

when I cut the rope and let the logs drift off, just

like when you let the water wash the music

from my pages. Was that on purpose? Maybe

you couldn’t have known. Maybe we only noticed

because one day we heard the wings of a vulture

catch the breeze. A raft can only stay

afloat for so long. Maybe we thought we could

build a boat; you were never Jewish and I

never Christian enough to believe so much

as in an ark. Tragedy chimes clear at the end

of aspiration. Did I stop taking out the trash

or did you stop throwing the rottings in?

It’s hard to say who jumped ship

first, or when. It matters only that we finally did

it together, the only fitting way. We bump

mosquito bites and grimace together

at the prickle. Someplace far away, we hold

each other’s hands so that we do not touch

the flame. It burns for three days before it fades

to a shadow of melatonin and then to nothing

at all; we forget that it ever itched.

look I found an old poem from high school

glow-in-the-dark stars

or real

the car zooms by

as I lie there

in the suburbs


to speak

to exist


“What the heck is He doing in the grass?”

We pass by.

What the heck

is He doing

in the grass.


We pass by.


Our light rockets past His grassy spot,

To us

it is brighter –

much brighter

than those supernovas

that are twinkling


that are frail


that are snuffed out by the mere existence of a streetlight.

For a glimpse

He stubbornly lies

in the grass,