Glassy-eyed, I smell
Of time and pain
Verdant once more.
There is a girl inside
in the backseat
and she is small, she is timid and she is weak
Hands pressing herself into place
against steel angles clothed in leather or lace
the car cutting corners, passing traffic
and it swerves to narrowly miss
a hidden man selling roses by the freeway exit
and clenched fists.
Her daddy is a lawyer
up north in Bethlehem
and her mama’s a nurse
out in some foreign land
fighting the spirits of old men
grown now crippled and gnarled
in the absence of our beloved Christ
The girl has a name
and she has an address
and she has a homeroom teacher
who points at dots on a map
Dots that stand for sharp, jagged lines drawn in that sand
that draw blood so often
that they become landmarks
across the cool, desert dark;
her name is somewhere in a wallet
left behind in some coat
that is too big for her, she knows
but was too see-through to let go.
After the post office
Her pawpaw hummed a song
that he had learned in the war
about men fighting demons
about our souls before
we came to this country
this land of tar and salt
these fields of sickness
sorrow and, our hearts, distraught,
this land of misery
and daughters without fathers
this land of broken promises
of freedom no longer.
There is a girl inside
in the backseat
and she is small and she is drunk
and she is strong.
There is a girl
she is someone
I saw through your disguises
back then, in the city,
as we stalked dark streets
in shoes too big for us to run in
in heels too small to make a sound;
All of my dreams are promises from another me
and I can see a different world in each one;
Our tongues were dry and lisping
and our throats were cut, and rasped with each word.
You drew poetry with your fingertips
on my bra line, tracing out the tattoos
you wanted on my body, capturing each syllable
on skin the color of pale milk tea.
I used to watch you in the early mornings
when sleep was hard to come by,
for the light had been climbing up the walls
and plotting its attack all day.
I crack your knuckles for you, bending each finger
in my palm and pressing down, as if spelling
out sign language for the dead,
as if a body’s sense of itself was fuzzy,
the reception infirm, signal weak.
I think this city will outlive the both of us
because we are blue eyes and hazel
and we can’t see clearly anymore.
it used to be like this
that we could dip into a shared stream
and see ourselves as in between
two mentions of a moth to flame
our lives in parallel
cinnamon rouged lips to
tasting of our bed
the way you taste below
and on stairs, recline
i like your dress
the way you walk
how you talk
i like your face
and the way you taste
i like how our hands fit together
and our hips
our lips the way they open and shut
mouth wide again with each thrust
i love how you come
i love how you touch you
when i close your mouth with my hand
spread wide your thighs and reach inside
your heart and I pull out with my self your soul
and the little pieces in between here and venice beach
our city our soul leaks
like cinnamon on wet cheeks
i strike deep vast depths
and i know inside I am the last
who will ever know what it is to be this
to see this shadow without a name
to walk, to salt this earth
with bare feet and lisped, limpid sounds
i make your absence into a weapon
and i drive it home when you’re away
i take on a new type of demon bubbling up unto the surface
and i let it boil and become named
my hands, a soft scent of you preceding them,
filled with fears that I hope you will know what to do with,
moving through hair – your hair – mussing up lines, caressing and cascading locks
rearranging chaos out of order, mixing feelings up together with premonitions
hopes, and fevered dreams that reach through time,
and spill out into the night.
small hands – your hand clasped in mine, held tight –
a ward against some dark absence that pervades this waking life of
Your skin, your hair, your eyes
Echoes of an echo
of words and of letters
sent through turns of sun and moon.
Through seasons and leaves, I left
you be, until the rhythm of you returned to me.
Time, it was,
to begin anew
and return once more
in the search for you.
I left you once in a crowded room
and once more ‘neath a waning moon.
I closed my eyes and let you pass –
visage of a ghost, visions that last.
I recall that night
midst waves that crashed:
a beach, a moon, your face, your laugh.
echo of an echo
ghost of a ghost
memory of a memory
you have become
and will, I fear, remain.
I remember the flash of joy,
the spark of excitement
that gave rise to flame –
sudden and new –
that caught kindling and grew
into a bonfire that has kept me warm
even all of these months later –
when my hand sought yours in secret –
the first night our lips met,
and we kissed
behind a home we shared, but did not own.
I didn’t know then (for how could I have know?)
that from that kiss
would rise a fire – and desire –
unlike any I’ve felt for another.
For I could see your face
and taste your lips
every single day
for the rest of my life
and still I would never have enough.
that every time we kiss, when my fingers brush up against your skin
that every time we talk, that every time I see your face before my eyes
my heart skips a beat
comes the simple feeling,
the feeling that I am going home.
I remember that night
when my hand found yours under a blanket
and your love found its way into my heart.
I think I passed you by tonight
On Sunset Boulevard
but I didn’t know you anymore:
nothing gave birth to nothing
and there was no need for us to part,
I pushed by you (and a friend, I guess)
as your eye caught mine, flash
frozen face projected out from my memory,
(uncovering archival images, hidden glances, secrets:
a dutiful errand boy-librarian, my head)
I thought nothing of it as your eye lingered
longer than I would expect,
your features assuming expressions unnamed
as you turned back to your company
and I, to my gait.
One glance was all it took to know
you weren’t yourself or, rather,
were never the person I tried to make you out to be
Words that cut, lacerations
barbed wire phrases and empty threats
promises unkept – broken –
promises made still and thinly believed
averted eyes as outbursts of anger,
tears and terror come to rain down upon the lucky few
hands on hips, fists and gestures
that accompany regret
‘There will never be another family
that is like this one,’ they all say.
‘This one, this one is unique.’