I’m not very good
at peeling away my own skin
pushing hair away from faces
feeling the moment
and grabbing hold
of the hand resting on your lap.
I’m not very good at filling spaces
as I sit next to you
in this theater.
I know, I’m not very good
at breathing naturally,
–my, it’s dark in here–
you are sitting so far away
in the seat next to me.
chicken in the roasting pan,
five minutes from perfect
when you come home from work,
folding me in from behind
we fly to bed; we nest,
skydiving onto comforter
warm down of each other,
gliding to a safe landing
but the smoke alarm protests:
the poultry—is post-roasted.
we get up, inspect the bird,
then oven placated,
we return to roost
Tonight I crawl into your bed with you
and cry myself to convulsions,
and you say nothing as the earthquake
in my chest rocks us silently in the dark.
“Are you okay?” you ask, and no, I’m not,
I’m shaking my head like an aftershock.
I can’t talk. And you try to hold me still
as I try to hold myself together.
I want to tell you
that he’s different from us, you know.
He doesn’t have tectonic plates
beneath the skin, a ring of fire
in his eyes, or a fault line
in his nervous system,
like we do.
He’s not like us,
we’re so close, soul sisters
What does he have that I don’t?
That gives you solid ground at his home?
But I cannot speak,
I cannot breathe through the tremors,
So you stroke my hair until I calm,
And against all odds I survive disaster,
And revived, manage to crawl
back into my own bed,
across the room.
The way new yorkers
or how I imagine
they would say
if new yorkers said merry christmas.
It’s that slightly aggressive,
slurred double r in the middle:
cheRRy, teRRible, meRRy-fuck off-christmas.
Anyway, it’s one of the things
I like to hear on your tongue.
What do I think of your body?
Your body is blood and muscle and bone.
Your body is sweat and tears and profusions.
Your body is a constantly-running
collection of happenings
performed through a million
little processes beginning
from the moment of your conception
and ending at the millisecond
of your death.
You body is phenomenal.
The phenomenon of you
for which I cannot
I’m getting used to being ignored.
I’m getting used to not asking
I’m getting used to being
I’m getting used to
I’m getting used to it,
the numbing sense of distrust,
the numbing pain of unimportance,
the feeling of being a forgotten
ornament on a shelf you’ve stopped seeing
as you walk through your house.
I’ve gotten used to being
taken for granted,
or if broken, or
even if stolen from right beneath your nose.
I am a vase covered with dust
next to some knickknacks,
a souvenir, perhaps,
from a nice vacation from a long,
tongue tsk-tsking like unexpected rainfall
on a metal roof
sighing and grunting, rolling,
arms out in awkward angles
cracking displaced shoulders,
a loud and somewhat unsettling
sound, like lightning
and your low, rumbling snores
first quiet and slow,
are now crescendoing into
an angry fight for breath,
for the right
to live through the night.
And I am
reminded of evening tempests
from humid childhood summers,
tucked into darkness with too-hot covers,
listening to the nightly cacophony
of anxious heat
returning to its forgiving earth,
the two reunited,
and together in the storm.
facing away from me
so I drape an arm around you
and you turn,
your breathing returns to normal
as you pull me close
And we fall
back to sleep.
Well-worn Birkenstocks have formed
The right calluses.
I was not paying attention at work.
I was reading your latest messages,
holding in laughs,
reeling in the goofy girlish grins
that would give me away to my co-workers,
too ready to gossip about my fall in productivity.
And that’s when I smelled the smoke.
I could see the flames erupting like a realization all around me.
I could see you, burning my life away, one fax cover at a time,
one photocopy after another going up in sparks.
Fire at the office, shouldn’t we evacuate?
No. Let it burn the printers to a crisp,
melt the staplers into disfigured puddles,
sizzle and pop the wires and light bulbs,
the fuck have these florescents ever done for me, anyway?
What have they ever done for anyone?
compared to what you’ve done for me,
Compared to the bright little light
of your words on my phone.
Jessica: Rich. God beholds.
Once upon a time,
A boy I felt very fondly for
Jessica is beautiful.
The most beautiful
Boy I know
The most beautiful
Girl in the world.
The most beautiful girl
in the world.
And I smile quietly and feel,
My heart swelling into an aching
A strange pride
I have never felt before
In my 22 years as a Karen
For I am.
Back before the flattening of cemeteries
or the building of emergency roads,
when outside our home grew
sugar cane fields I barely remember,
chopping corn in the kitchen
for a soup upon my request,
misses the strike
and pushes down hard
not on the golden flesh
of Nebraska’s finest,
but on her left fingers, instead.
While I, oblivious soup-requester,
stay with an auntie upstairs,
she wraps her hand in cloth
and treks through the now-forgotten sugar cane fields,
climbing a wall to cut through
the now-flattened cemetery
for the nearest hospital,
where they sew her up right quick,
and she walks right back home
the same way.
And to think that in these days
of roads and ready-made soups,
there are those who eat corn off the cob in chunks,
sweet patches forgotten
right on the cob.