Apr 30

Self-Portrait at 18

I know it’s a bad title 
but I’m carving these words 
out of my compacted mind. 
I’m trying to mix the mud of my thoughts 
into something more coherent 
than to do lists and quiet 
mornings with the windows all pushed up. 

The trails this spring are closed. 
“Come back tomorrow” the sign says, 
but the tomorrows could stretch 
forever and no one would ever know. 

This is how I feel today: 
torn open and shut down, 
like I have one foot in my bedroom 
and one on the other side of the Hudson. 

II. 

I don’t remember the day I was born, 
but I’ve been told it was full of light 
that grows from a rainstorm.
The way it builds, golden, 
like a patch in the sky,
and is swept away by its height. 

It’s one of the things I think about 
when it’s too nice to be inside. 
This and my eyes. Have they always 
been the color they are now? 
Mar 09

Authorized Entrance Only

There is no twilight in the city. 
Only time we collect in our mouths, 
sun peeling color off the streets,
rats skittering down sidewalks.

The fire escape has been painted gold.
It shimmers at night, 
casts shadows on my wall, 
golden stains where the studs should be. 

Under the weight of a trash can, 
the cobble-stoned alley echoes like gunshots. 
We cover our ears, 
put our knees to the floor. 

There are ghosts in our hallway, 
footsteps thudding off the steel stairs. 
We have lived here for years. 
We still forget to lock the door. 


Inspired by “With Eyes Veiled” by Charles Simic
 
Mar 01

Ellipse

The record down the hall sounds like the static of space, drawn out and fading, as if a comet streaked by, leaving a trail of sound in its wake. This is not a party, but if it were we’d tune the radio to Pluto and dance the night away to the sound of its loneliness.

We’d pretend to be in love with ourselves as much as the sky, the abyss, and all the space that’s eaten by time. I’d print out that photo of us from last fall, holding hands on the bridge, arms raised above our heads, traffic whizzing by. We’d color our eyes green and write the dates wrong on the backs. We’d leave them on street corners and tape them to bathroom mirrors and wait for someone to find them and give them to little boys with dreams of becoming astronauts, or pilots, or men with dark glasses.

Afterward, I’d buy you a pink donut from the corner store, kiss the birthmark on your shoulder, and leave the car running. We’d be like Mars: red, and cold, and pretending. 
Dec 16

rhythms of the endless

The wall is wearing away
in the places where she stands
to face it and rubs her palm
along the rough paint.
She does not consider the shades
or the light that sifts
in through the window.

She only paints the sill yellow,
and files her nails,
and marks all the ways she
has loved with chalk
beside the glass.

She will never consider
the consequences of living
behind a curtain.
She never wonders what life
is like on the other side. 

When will we stop longing for the realities we cannot have?
When will she stop loving him for what he is not? 
Dec 12

Birthday cake

I've been been thinking of you lately, 
and for the past four years. 

I've been thinking about that time
you stood with your neck bent
back, staring at the sky, 
counting its emptiness,
how afraid you were. 

It took you so long 
to love me like a black hole: 
The way they collapse, 
how the seconds fall off the horizon 
and are gone
forever. 

What happens after we grow
too old for hopscotch and cigarettes?
Will we still hang
our hands out car windows?
Will we remember seventeen when we're forty?

I keep telling myself: 
we are much more than our own light,
our own gravity. 

Will you still call me on the nights
when my voice echoes off the atmosphere? 
Will you remember
the way you are
memorialized
in my eyelashes, and my walls, 
and the letters under my bed? 

How long before

Oct 09

For you and the haying fields behind your house

Every October I think
of you, standing beside that creek,
with your rain boots and your bag and your hands,
holding onto me. 

Every October I read
your poems. I run your words
through my head on repeat. 

I think of that time
I put my hand in yours 
and you couldn't speak. 
How you stood there and
tried to breathe
and looked over at me
like I was the sky and you
were just opening your eyes. 

There are certain moments 
from which I will never recover. 
Swaying dizzy in your arms, laughing. 
Sitting on that bench in November, freezing.
Riding the bus next to you, our knees tucked up,
our thoughts tangled together under the seat.
Staying up at night, trying to collect
the pieces of you in a poem.

I have never stopped dreaming of you, never want to. 
I wake in the dark, 
feel the shiver of your smile on my spine, 
Jul 22

Feather fallout

In the morning I watch the mountains fade into the cream of the sunrise and count the seconds before the fog lifts. Suddenly, as if by accident, my eyes reflect in the curve of the earth as it tilts, slightly off balance, teetering on the edge of elegance, or destruction, or that feeling I get right before I open my mouth. 

I spilled coffee over the concrete floor at work and stood there, brown stars on the pale cuff of my shorts and so much hope I didn't know whether to get a mop or a match. I wanted to take my shoes off, to splash through the puddle as if it were rain. 

When we are young we are determined to grow up singular: one goal, one plan, one happiness, one lift-off, one chance at an impact. Today, I am multiplying. I roll down the car windows in a thunderstorm, I draw constellations on my clothes, I carve wings into a door in the public restroom, I tell myself that dusk marks the start of the night of the rest of my life.
Jul 13

An Ache of Sunshine

Jun 23

Peanut butter crackers and the inevitable ghosts of tomorrow

Today I found you in the peanut butter aisle. I stood there for a moment, frozen by the possibilty of your expression as you turned and recognized me and tried to think of what to say. Instead I ducked into the next aisle, ran halfway down the row, and stopped, counting my inhale and pretending to examine a box of Wheat Thins. 

I can see it now, as you spun and caught the breeze of my getaway on your face, raising your hand to hide your eyes. I like to think you knew it was me, that you stared up at the fluorescent light above you and counted the seconds before you had to look away, that you were okay knowing I was there, nine feet down, parallel and never touching. 

But it doesn't matter what really happened because as I went to pay, I saw you in front of me and it wasn't you after all; you were just a boy with a jar of grape jelly and the same messy haircut, in a grocery store check-out line on an early Tuesday evening. 
Feb 27

​To the Fig Tree on Koloĉep Island

When I say “fig” 
I do not mean the kind 
you get at the supermarket
in a clear plastic tub. 
I do not mean the kind
that is shriveled, and brown, 
and crackles when cleaved open
by a child with dirty nails. 

When I say “fig”
I mean the kind that dangles,
purple and glowing 
from a thicket of foliage 
above a cobbled street. 

Have you ever stood 
at the edge of the Adriatic 
under the shade of a tree 
as old as a country 
and eaten the pith of a fruit 
the color of the sky at dusk?

What is this sudden urge we call longing?
When, in the late afternoon 
of a Saturday in January, 
as you loiter under the fluorescent lights 
in aisle six, you demand to have the heart 
of a past summer on your tongue. 

You buy a box despite them being old and dry,
and stand with your fingers in your mouth 
at a bus stop on the corner of Dorset,

Pages